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STUDIES     IN     ECONOMICS     AND     POLITICAL     SCIENCE 

Edited  by 

THE    DIRECTOR    OF   TFIE   LONDON    SCHOOL  OF   ECONOMICS   AND 
POLITICAL   SCIENCE 

No.  65  in  the  series  of  Monographs  by  writers  connected  with  the 
London  School  of  Economics  and  Political  Science 


ARGONAUTS   OF   THE   WESTERN 
PACIFIC 


ROBERT     MOND     EXPEDITION     TO     NEW     GUINEA,    1914-1918 


BOOKS   BY    SAME   AUTHOR 

THE  FAMILY  AMONG  THE  AUSTRALIAN  ABORIGINES.  London  :  University 
of  London  Press  (out  of  print),  1913. 

PRIMITIVE  RELIGION  AND  SOCIAL  DIFFERENTIATION.  Cracow  (in  Polish, 
out  of  print),  1915. 

"  THE  NATIVES  OF  MAILU."  Adelaide :  Trans,  of  the  R.  Soc.  of  S. 
Australia  for  1915.  pp.  494-706.  1915. 

ARGONAUTS  OF  THE  WESTERN  PACIFIC.  London :  Geo.  Routledge  and 
Sons  ;  New  York  :  E.  P.  Dutton  and  Co.  1922. 

"  MAGIC,  SCIENCE,  AND  RELIGION,"  in  Essays  collected  by  J.  Needham, 
under  the  title  Science,  Religion,  and  Reality.  London  :  The  Sheldon 
Press  ;  New  York  and  Toronto  :  The  Macmillan  Co.  1926. 

MYTH  IN  PRIMITIVE  PSYCHOLOGY.  London  :  Kegan  Paul  and  Co. ; 
New  York  :  W.  W.  Norton  and  Co.  1926. 

CRIME  AND  CUSTOM  IN  SAVAGE  SOCIETY.  London  :  Kegan  Paul  and 
Co. ;  New  York  :  Harcourt  Brace  and  Co.  1926. 

THE  FATHER  IN  PRIMITIVE  PSYCHOLOGY.  London  :  Kegan  Paul  and  Co. ; 
New  York  :  W.  W.  Norton  and  Co.  1927. 

SEX  AND  REPRESSION  IN  SAVAGE  SOCIETY.  London  :  Kegan  Paul  and 
Co. ;  New  York  :  Harcourt  Brace  and  Co.  1927. 


§ 


8 

H 
U 


ARGONAUTS  OF 
THE  WESTERN  PACIFIC 

*An   ^Account  of  Dative    Enterprise 

and  *Ad*penture  in  the  ^Archipelagoes 

of  ^Melanesian    3\(ew    Quinea 


BY 


BRONISLAW    MALINOWSKI 

PH.D.  (Cracow),  D.Sc.  (London) 


WITH  A  PREFACE 

BY 

SIR  JAMES  GEORGE  FRAZER,   F.B.A.,   F.R.S. 


WITH    5    MAPS,    6j    ILLUSTRATIONS,    AND    2    FIGURES. 


LONDON : 

GEORGE  ROUTLEDGE  &  SONS,   LTD. 

NEW    YORK:    E.   P.   DUTTON    &    CO. 
1932 


KIRb'I     PUBLISHED        -       -       JULY,    Hj22 
SFCDND    IMPRESSION,    I- hBRUARY ,    1932 


Male  and  Punted  in  Great  Hntatn  b\ 

l'rnv  iMtul,  Humphnes  o"  (.« /.w 

^    I  men  Cut  net    London,  I1  (1  | 

and  iit  It md ford 


TO 

MY   FRIEND   AND   TEACHER 
PROFESSOR  C.  G.  SELIGMAN,  F.R.S. 


PREFACE 
BY  SIR  JAMES  G.  FRAZER 

MY  esteemed  friend,  Dr.  B.  Malinowski  has  asked  me  to 
write  a  preface  to  his  book,  and  I  willingly  comply  with 
his  request,  though  I  can  hardly  think  that  any  words 
of  mine  will  add  to  the  value  of  the  remarkable  record 
of  anthropological  research  which  he  has  given  us  in  this 
volume.  My  observations,  such  as  they  are,  will  deal 
partly  with  the  writer's  method  and  partly  with  the 
matter  of  his  book. 

In  regard  to  method,  Dr.  Malinowski  has  done  his 
work,  as  it  appears  to  me,  under  the  best  conditions  and 
in  the  manner  calculated  to  secure  the  best  possible 
results.  Both  by  theoretical  training  and  by  practical 
experience  he  was  well  equipped  for  the  task  which  he 
undertook.  Of  his  theoretical  training  he  had  given 
proof  in  his  learned  and  thoughtful  treatise  on  the  family 
among  the  aborigines  of  Australia*;  of  his  practical 
experience  he  had  produced  no  less  satisfactory  evidence 
in  his  account  of  the  natives  of  Mailu  in  New  Guinea, 
based  on  a  residence  of  six  months  among  them.f  In 
the  Trobriand  Islands,  to  the  east  of  New  Guinea,  to 
which  he  next  turned  his  attention,  Dr.  Malinowski 
lived  as  a  native  among  the  natives  for  many  months 
together,  watching  them  daily  at  work  and  at  play, 
conversing  with  them  in  their  own  tongue,  and  deriving 
all  his  information  from  the  surest  sources — persona) 
observation  and  statements  made  to  him  directly  by  the 

*  The  Family  among  the  Australian  Aborigine*:  A  Sociological  Studv. 
London  University  of  London  Prcsb,  ig  13. 

t  "The  Natives  of  Mailu  Prehmin.iry  Results  of  the  Robert  Mond  Research 
Work  in  British  New  Guinea."  Transactions  of  the  Royal  Society  of  South 
Australia,  vol.  xxxix.,  1915, 


viii  PREFACE 

natives  in  their  own  language  without  the  intervention 
of  an  interpreter.  In  this  way  he  has  accumulated  a  large 
mass  of  materials,  of  high  scientific  value,  bearing  on  the 
social,  religious,  and  economic  or  industrial  life  of  the 
Trobriand  Islanders,  These  he  hopes  and  intends  to 
publish  hereafter  in  full ;  meantime  he  has  given  us  in 
the  present  volume  a  preliminary  study  of  an  interesting 
and  peculiar  feature  in  Trobriand  society,  the  remark- 
able system  of  exchange,  only  in  part  economic  or 
commercial,  which  the  islanders  maintain  among  them- 
selves and  with  the  inhabitants  of  neighbouring  islands. 

Little  reflection  is  needed  to  convince  us  of  the  funda- 
mental importance  of  economic  forces  at  all  stages  of 
man's  career  from  the  humblest  to  the  highest.  After 
all,  the  human  species  is  part  of  the  animal  creation,  and 
as  such,  like  the  rest  of  the  animals,  it  reposes  on  a 
material  foundation  ;  on  which  a  higher  life,  intellectual, 
moral,  social,  may  be  built,  but  without  which  no  such 
superstructure  is  possible.  That  material  foundation, 
consisting  in  the  necessity  of  food  and  of  a  certain  degree 
of  warmth  and  shelter  from  the  elements,  forms  the 
economic  or  industrial  basis  and  prime  condition  of  human 
life.  If  anthropologists  have  hitherto  unduly  neglected 
it,  we  may  suppose  that  it  was  rather  because  they  were 
attracted  to  the  higher  side  of  man's  nature  than  because 
they  deliberately  ignored  and  undervalued  the  importance 
and  indeed  necessity  of  the  lower.  In  excuse  for  their 
neglect  we  may  also  remember  that  anthropology  is  still 
a  young  science,  and  that  the  multitude  of  problems 
which  await  the  student  cannot  all  be  attacked  at  once, 
but  .must  be  grappled  with  one  by  one.  Be  that  as  it 
may,  Dr.  Malinowski  has  done  well  to  emphasise  the  great 
significance  of  primitive  economics  by  singling  out  the 
notable  exchange  system  of  the  Trobriand  Islanders  for 
special  consideration. 

Further,  he  has  wisely  refused  to  limit  himself  to  a 
mere  description  of  the  processes  of  the  exchange,  and 
has  set  himself  to  penetrate  the  motives  which  underlie 
it  and  the  feelings  which  it  excites  in  the  minds  of  the 


PREFACE  ix 

natives.  It  appears  to  be  sometimes  held  that  pure 
sociology  should  confine  itself  to  the  description  of  acts 
and  should  leave  the  problems  of  motives  and  feelings  to 
psychology.  Doubtless  it  is  true  that  the  analysis  of 
motives  and  feelings  is  logically  distinguishable  from  the 
description  of  acts,  and  that  it  falls,  strictly  speaking, 
within  the  sphere  of  psychology  ;  but  in  practice  an  act 
has  no  meaning  for  an  observer  unless  he  knows  or  infers 
the  thoughts  and  emotions  of  the  agent ;  hence  to 
describe  a  series  of  acts,  without  any  reference  to  the  state 
of  mind  of  the  agent,  would  not  answer  the  purpose  of 
sociology,  the  aim  of  which  is  not  merely  to  register  but 
to  understand  the  actions  of  men  in  society.  Thus 
sociology  cannot  fulfil  its  task  without  calling  in  at 
every  turn  the  aid  of  psychology. 

It  is  characteristic  of  Dr.  Malinowski's  method  that 
he  takes  full  account  of  the  complexity  of  human  nature. 
He  sees  man,  so  to  say,  in  the  round  and  not  in  the  flat. 
He  remembers  that  man  is  a  creature  of  emotion  at  least 
as  much  as  of  reason,  and  he  is  constantly  at  pains  to 
discover  the  qjnotional  as  well  as  the  rational  basis  of 
human  action.  The  man  of  science,  like  the  man  of 
letters,  is  too  apt  to  view  mankind  only  in  the  abstract, 
selecting  for  his  consideration  a  single  side  of  our  com- 
plex and  many-sided  being.  Of  this  one-sided  treatment 
Moliere  is  a  conspicuous  example  among  great  writers. 
All  his  characters  are  seen  only  in  the  fiat  :  one  of  them 
is  a  miser,  another  a  hypocrite,  another  a  coxcomb, 
and  so  on  ;  but  not  one  of  them  is  a  man.  All  are  dummies 
dressed  up  to  look  very  like  human  beings  ;  but  the 
likeness  is  only  on  the  surface,  all  within  is  hollow  and 
empty,  because  truth  to  nature  has  been  sacrificed  to 
literary  effect.  Very  different  is  the  presentation  of 
human  nature  in  the  greater  artists,  such  as  Cervantes 
and  Shakespeare :  their  characters  are  solid,  being 
drawn  not  from  one  side  only  but  from  many.  No  doubt 
in  science  a  certain  abstractness  of  treatment  is  not 
merely  legitimate,  but  necessary,  since  science  is  nothing 
but  knowledge  raised  to  the  highest  power,  and  all 


x  PREFACE 

knowledge  implies  a  process  of  abstraction  and  general- 
isation :  even  the  recognition  of  an  individual  whom  we 
see  every  day  is  only  possible  as  the  result  of  an  abstract 
idea  of  him  formed  by  generalisation  from  his  appear- 
ances in  the  past.  Thus  the  science  of  man  is  forced  to 
abstract  certain  aspects  of  human  nature  and  to  con- 
sider them  apart  from  the  concrete  reality  ;  or  ratter  it 
falls  into  a  number  of  sciences,  each  of  which  considers 
a  single  part  of  man's  complex  organism,  it  may  be  the 
physical,  the  intellectual,  the  moral,  or  the  social  side 
of  his  being  ;  and  the  general  conclusions  which  it  draws 
will  present  a  more  or  less  incomplete  picture  of  man  as  a 
whole,  because  the  lines  which  compose  it  are  necessarily 
but  a  few  picked  out  of  a  multitude. 

In  the  present  treatise  Dr.  Malinowski  is  mainly 
concerned  with  what  at  first  sight  might  seem  a  purely 
economic  activity  of  the  Trobriand  Islanders ;  but, 
with  his  usual  width  of  outlook  and  fineness  of  perception, 
he  is  careful  to  point  out  that  the  curious  circulation  of 
valuables,  which  takes  place  between  the  inhabitants  of 
the  Trobriand  and  other  islands,  while  it  is  accompanied 
by  ordinary  trade,  is  by  no  means  itself  a  purely  com- 
mercial transaction  ;  he  shows  that  it  is  not  based  on  a 
simple  calculation  of  utility,  of  profit  and  loss,  but  that  it 
satisfies  emotional  and  aesthetic  needs  of  a  higher  order 
than  the  mere  gratification  of  animal  wants.  This 
leads  Dr.  Malinowski  to  pass  some  severe  strictures 
on  the  conception  of  the  Primitive  Economic  Man  as 
a  kind  of  bogey  who,  it  appears,  still  haunts  economic 
text-books  and  even  extends  his  blighting  influence 
to  the  minds  of  certain  anthropologists.  Rigged  out  in 
cast-off  garments  of  Mr.  Jeremy  Bentham  and  Mr. 
Gradgrind,  this  horrible  phantom  is  apparently  actuated 
by  no  other  motive  than  that  of  filthy  lucre,  which  he 
pursues  relentlessly,  on  Spencerian  principles,  along  the 
line  of  least  resistance.  If  such  a  dismal  fiction  is  really 
regarded  by  serious  inquirers  as  having  any  counterpart 
in  savage  society,  and  not  simply  as  a  useful  abstraction, 
Dr.  Malinowski1  s  account  of  the  Kula  in  this  book  should 


PREFACE  xi 

help  to  lay  the  phantom  by  the  heels  ;  for  he  proves  that 
the  trade  in  useful  objects,  which  forms  part  of  the  Kula 
system,  is  in  the  minds  of  the  natives  entirely  sub- 
ordinate in  importance  to  the  exchange  of  other  objects, 
which  serve  no  utilitarian  purpose  whatever.  In  its 
combination  of  commercial  enterprise,  social  organi- 
sation, mythical  background,  and  magical  ritual,  to  say 
nothing  of  the  wide  geographical  range  of  its  operations, 
this  singular  institution  appears  to  have  no  exact  parallel 
in  the  existing  anthropological  record  ;  but  its  discoverer, 
Dr.  Malinowski,  may  very  well  be  right  in  surmising 
that  it  is  probably  a  type  of  institution  of  which  ana- 
logous, if  not  precisely  similar,  instances  will  hereafter 
be  brought  to  light  by  further  research  among  savage 
and  barbarous  peoples. 

Not  the  least  interesting  and  instructive  feature  of 
the  Kula,  as  it  is  described  for  us  by  Dr.  Malinowski,  is  the 
extremely  important  part  which  magic  is  seen  to  play  in 
the  institution.  From  his  description  it  appears  that  in 
the  minds  of  the  natives  the  performance  of  magical  rites 
and  the  utterance  of  magical  words  are  indispensable  for 
the  success  of  the  enterprise  in  all  its  phases,  from  the 
felling  of  the  trees  out  of  which  the  canoes  are  to  be 
hollowed,  down  to  the  moment  when,  the  expedition 
successfully  accomplished,  the  argosy  with  its  precious 
cargo  is  about  to  start  on  its  homeward  voyage.  And 
incidentally  we  learn  that  magical  ceremonies  and  spells 
are  deemed  no  less  necessary  for  the  cultivation  of  gardens 
and  foj  success  in  fishing,  the  two  forms  of  industrial 
enterprise  which  furnish  the  islanders  with  their 
principal  means  of  support  ;  hence  the  garden  magician, 
whose  business  it  is  to  promote  the  growth  of  the  garden 
produce  by  his  hocus-pocus,  is  one  of  the  most  important 
men  in  the  village,  ranking  next  after  the  chief  and  the 
sorcerer.  In  short,  magic  is  believed  to  be  an  absolutely 
essential  adjunct  of  every  industrial  undertaking,  being 
just  as  requisite  for  its  success  as  the  mechanical  oper- 
ations involved  in  it,  such  as  the  caulking,  painting  and 
launching  of  a  canoe,  the  planting  of  a  garden,  and  the 


xii  PREFACE 

setting  of  a  fish-trap.  u  A  belief  in  magic,"  says  Dr. 
Malinowski,  "  is  one  of  the  main  psychological  forces 
which  allow  for  organisation  and  systematisation  of 
economic  effort  in  the  Trobriands." 

This  valuable  account  of  magic  as  a  factor  of 
fundamental  economic  importance  for  the  welfare  and 
indeed  for  the  very  existence  of  the  community  should 
suffice  to  dispel  the  erroneous  view  that  magic,  as 
opposed  to  religion,  is  in  its  nature  essentially  male- 
ficent and  anti-social,  being  always  used  by  an 
individual  for  the  promotion  of  his  own  selfish  ends 
and  the  injury  of  his  enemies,  quite  regardless  of  its 
effect  on  the  common  weal.  No  doubt  magic  may  be 
so  employed,  and  has  in  fact  probably  been  so  employed, 
in  every  part  of  the  world  ;  in  the  Trobriand  Islands 
themselves  it  is  believed  to  be  similarly  practised  for 
nefarious  purposes  by  sorcerers,  who  inspire  the  natives 
with  the  deepest  dread  and  the  most  constant  concern. 
But  in  itself  magic  is  neither  beneficent  nor  maleficent ; 
it  is  simply  an  imaginary  power  of  controlling  the  forces 
of  nature,  and  this  control  may  be  exercised  by  the 
magician  for  good  or  evil,  for  the  benefit  or  injury  of 
individuals  and  of  the  community.  In  this  respect, 
magic  is  exactly  on  the  same  footing  with  the  sciences,  of 
which  it  is  the  bastard  sister.  They,  too,  in  themselves, 
are  neither  good  nor  evil,  though  they  become  the  source 
of  one  or  other  according  to  their  application.  It  would 
be  absurd,  for  example,  to  stigmatise  pharmacy  as  anti- 
social, because  a  knowledge  of  the  properties  of  drugs  is 
often  employed  to  destroy  men  as  well  as  to  heal  them.  It 
is  equally  absurd  to  neglect  the  beneficent  application  of 
magic  and  to  single  out  its  maleficent  use  as  the  character- 
istic property  by  which  to  define  it.  The  processes  of 
nature,  over  which  science  exercises  a  real  and  magic  an 
imaginary  control,  are  not  affected  by  the  moral  dis- 
position, the  good  or  bad  intention,  of  the  individual  who 
uses  his  knowledge  to  set  them  in  motion.  The  action  of 
drugs  on  the  human  body  is  precisely  the  same  whether 
they  are  administered  by  a  physician  or  by  a  poisoner. 


PREFACE  xir 

Nature  and  her  handmaid  Science  are  neither  friendly 
nor  hostile  to  morality  ;  they  are  simply  indifferent  to  it 
and  equally  ready  to  do  the  bidding  of  the  saint  and  of 
the  sinner,  provided  only  that  he  gives  them  the  proper 
word  of  command.  If  the  guns  are  well  loaded  and  well 
aimed,  the  fire  of  the  battery  will  be  equally  destructive, 
whether  the  gunners  are  patriots  fighting  in  defence  of 
their  country  or  invaders  waging  a  war  of  unjust  aggres- 
sion. The  fallacy  of  differentiating  a  science  or  an  art 
according  to  its  application  and  the  moral  intention  of  the 
agent  is  obvious  enough  with  regard  to  pharmacy  and 
artillery ;  it  is  equally  real,  though  to  many  people 
apparently  it  is  less  obvious,  with  regard  to  magic. 

The  immense  influence  wielded  by  magic  over 
the  whole  life  and  thought  of  the  Trobriand  Islanders 
is  perhaps  the  feature  of  Dr.  Malinowski's  book  which 
makes  the  most  abiding  impression  on  the  mind  of  the 
reader.  He  tells  us  that  "  magic,  the  attempt  of  man 
to  govern  the  forces  of  nature  directly  by  means  of  a 
special  lore,  is  all-pervading  and  all-important  in  the 
Trobriands ''  ;  it  is  "  interwoven  into  all  the  many 
industrial  and  communal  activities "  ;  "all  the  data 
which  have  been  so  far  mustered  disclose  the  extreme 
importance  of  magic  in  the  Kula.  But  if  it  were  a 
questions  of  treating  of  any  other  aspect  of  the  tribal  life 
of  these  natives,  it  would  also  be  found  that,  whenevei 
they  approach  any  concern  of  vital  importance,  1hey 
summon  magic  to  their  aid.  It  can  be  saiel  without 
exaggeration  that  magic,  according  to  their  ideas, 
governs  human  destinies  ;  that  it  supplies  man  with  the 
power  of  mastering  the  forces  of  nature ;  and  that  it  is 
his  weapon  and  armour  against  the  many  dangers  which 
crowd  in  upon  him  on  every  side." 

Thus  in  the  view  of  the  Trobriand  Islanders,  rtiagic  is  a 
power  of  supreme  importance  either  for  good  or  evil ;  it 
can  make  or  mar  the  life  of  man  ;  it  can  sustain  and  pro- 
tect the  individual  and  the  community,  or  it  can  injure 
and  destroy  them.  Compared  to  this  universal  and  deep- 
rooted  conviction,  the  belief  in  the  existence  oi  the 


xiv  PREFACE 

spirits  of  the  dead  would  seem  to  exercise  but  little 
influence  on  the  life  of  these  people.  Contrary  to  the 
general  attitude  of  savages  towards  the  souls  of  the 
departed,  they  are  reported  to  be  almost  completely 
devoid  of  any  fear  of  ghosts.  They  believe,  indeed, 
that  the  ghosts  return  to  their  villages  once  a  year  to 
partake  of  the  great  annual  feast ;  but  "  in  general  the 
spirits  do  not  influence  human  beings  very  much,  for 
better  or  worse"  ;  "there  is  nothing  of  the  mutual  inter- 
action, of  the  intimate  collaboration  between  man  and 
spirit  which  are  the  essence  of  religious  cult."  This 
conspicuous  predominance  of  magic  over  religion, 
at  least  over  the  worship  of  the  dead,  is  a  very  notable 
feature  in  the  culture  of  a  people  so  comparatively  high 
in  the  scale  of  savagery  as  the  Trobriand  Islanders.  It 
furnishes  a  fresh  proof  of  the  extraordinary  strength  and 
tenacity  of  the  hold  which  this  world-wide  delusion  has 
had,  and  still  has,  upon  the  human  mind. 

We  shall  doubtless  learn  much  as  to  the  relation  of 
magic  and  religion  among  the  Trobrianders  from  the  full 
report  of  Dr.  Malinowski's  researches  in  the  islands. 
From  the  patient  observation  which  he  has  devoted  to  a 
single  institution,  and  from  the  wealth  of  details  with 
which  he  has  illustrated  it,  we  may  judge  of  the  extent 
and  value  of  the  larger  work  which  he  has  in  preparation. 
It  promises  to  be  one  of  the  completest  and  most 
scientific  accounts  ever  given  of  a  savage  people. 


J.  G.  FRAZER. 


The  Temple,  London, 
jth  March,  1922. 


FOREWORD 
BY  THE  AUTHOR 

ETHNOLOGY  is  in  the  sadly  ludicrous,  not  to  say  tragic, 
position,  that  at  the  very  moment  when  it  begins  to  put 
its  workshop  in  order,  to  forge  its  proper  tools,  to  start 
ready  for  work  on  its  appointed  task,  the  material  of  its 
stud}'  melts  away  with  hopeless  rapidity.  Just  now, 
when  the  methods  and  aims  of  scientific  field  ethnology 
have  taken  shape,  when  men  fully  trained  for  the  work 
have  begun  to  travel  into  savage  countries  and  study 
their  inhabitants — these  die  away  under  our  very  eyes. 

The  research  which  has  been  done  on  native  races  by 
men  of  academic  training  has  proved  beyond  doubt  and 
cavil  that  scientific,  methodic  inquiry  can  give  us  results 
far  more  abundant  and  of  better  quality  than  those 
of  even  the  best  amateur's  work.  Most,  though  not  all, 
of  the  modern  scientific  accounts  have  opened  up  quite 
new  and  unexpected  aspects  of  tribal  life.  They  have 
given  us,  in  clear  outline,  the  picture  of  social  insti- 
tutions often  surprisingly  vast  and  complex  ;  they  have 
brought  before  us  the  vision  of  the  native  as  he  is,  in  his 
religious  and  magical  beliefs  and  practices.  They  have 
allowed  us  to  penetrate  into  his  mind  far  more  deeply 
than  we  have  ever  done  before.  From  this  new  material, 
scientifically  hall-marked,  students  of  comparative 
Ethnology  have  already  drawn  some  very  important 
conclusions  on  the  origin  of  human  customs,  beliefs  and 
institutions  ;  on  the  history  of  cultures,  and  their  spread 
and  contact ;  on  the  laws  of  human  behaviour  in  society, 
and  of  the  human  mind. 

The  hope  of  gaining  a  new  vision  of  savage  humanity 
through  the  labours  of  scientific  specialists  open;  out 
like  a  mirage,  vanishing  almost  as  soon  as  perceived. 


xvi  FOREWORD 

For  though  at  present,  there  is  still  a  large  number  of 
native  communities  available  for  scientific  study,  within 
a  generation  or  two,  they  or  their  cultures  will  have  practi- 
cally disappeared.  The  need  for  energetic  work  is  urgent, 
and  the  time  is  short.  Nor,  alas,  up  to  the  present,  has 
any  adequate  interest  been  taken  by  the  pubUc  in  these 
studies.  The  number  of  workers  is  small,  the  encourage- 
ment they  receive  scanty.  I  feel  therefore  no  need  to 
justify  an  ethnological  contribution  which  is  the  result 
of  specialised  research  in  the  field. 

In  this  volume  I  give  an  account  of  one  phase  of  savage 
life  only,  in  describing  certain  forms  of  inter-tribal,  trading 
relations  among  the  natives  of  New  Guinea.  This 
account  has  been  culled,  as  a  preliminary  monograph, 
from  Ethnographic  material,  covering  the  whole  extent 
of  the  tribal  culture  of  one  district.  One  of  the  first 
conditions  of  acceptable  Ethnographic  work  certainly  is 
that  it  should  deal  with  the  totality  of  all  social,  cultural 
and  psychological  aspects  of  the  community,  for  they  are 
so  interwoven  that  not  one  can  be  understood  without 
taking  into  consideration  all  the  others.  The  reader  of 
this  monograph  will  clearly  see  that,  though  its  main 
theme  is  economic — for  it  deals  with  commercial  enter- 
prise, exchange  and  trade — constant  reference  has  to  be 
made  to  social  organisation,  the  power  of  magic,  to 
mythology  and  folklore,  and  indeed  to  all  other  aspects 
as  well  as  the  main  one. 

The  geographical  area  of  which  the  book  treats  is 
limited  to  the  Archipelagoes  lying  off  the  eastern  end  of 
New  Guinea.  Even  within  this,  the  main  field  of  research 
was  in  one  district,  that  of  the  Trobriand  Islands.  This, 
however,  has  been  studied  minutely.  I  have  lived  in  that 
one  archipelago  for  about  two  years,  in  the  course  of  three 
expeditions  to  New  Guinea,  during  which  time  I  naturally 
acquired  a  thorough  knowledge  of  the  language.  I  did 
my  work  entirely  alone,  living  for  the  greater  part  of  the 
time  right  in  the  villages.  I  therefore  had  constantly  the 
daily  life  of  the  natives  before  my  eyes,  while  accidental, 
dramatic  occurrences,  deaths,  quarrels,  village  brawls, 


FOREWORD  xvii 

public  and  ceremonial  events,  could  not  escape  my 
notice. 

In  the  present  state  of  Ethnography,  when  so  much  has 
still  to  be  done  in  paving  the  way  for  forthcoming  research 
and  in  fixing  its  scope,  each  new  contribution  ought  to 
justify  its  appearance  in  several  points.  It  ought  to  show 
some  advance  in  method  ;  it  ought  to  push  research 
beyond  its  previous  limits  in  depth,  in  width,  or  in  both  ; 
finally,  it  ought  to  endeavour  to  present  its  results  in  a 
manner  exact,  but  not  dry.  The  specialist  interested  in 
method,  in  reading  this  work,  will  find  set  out  in  the 
Introduction,  Divisions  II-IX  and  in  Chapter  XVIII, 
the  exposition  of  my  points  of  view  and  efforts  in  this 
direction.  The  reader  who  is  concerned  with  results, 
rather  than  with  the  way  of  obtaining  them,  will  find  in 
Chapters  IV  to  XXI  a  consecutive  narrative  of  the  Kula 
expeditions,  and  the  various  associated  customs  and 
beliefs.  The  student  who  is  interested,  not  only  in  the 
narrative,  but  in  the  ethnographic  background  for  it,  and 
a  clear  definition  of  the  institution,  will  find  the  first  in 
Chapters  I  and  II,  and  the  latter  in  Chapter  III. 

To  Mr.  Robert  Mond  I  tender  my  sincerest  thanks. 
It  is  to  his  generous  endowment  that  I  owe  the  possibility 
of  carrying  on  for  several  years  the  research  of  which  the 
present  volume  is  a  partial  result.  To  Mr.  Atlee  Hunt, 
C.M.G.,  Secretary  of  the  Home  and  Territories  Depart- 
ment of  the  Commonwealth  of  Australia,  I  am  indebted 
for  the  financial  assistance  of  the  Department,  and  also 
for  much  help  given  on  the  spot.  In  the  Trobriands, 
I  was  immensely  helped  in  my  work  by  Mr.  B.  Hancock, 
pearl  trader,  to  whom  I  am  grateful  not  only  for  assis- 
tance and  services,  but  for  many  acts  of  friendship. 

Much  of  the  argument  in  this  book  has  been  greatly 
improved  by  the  criticism  given  me  by  my  friend,  Mr. 
Paul  Khuner,  of  Vienna,  an  expert  in  the  practical 
affairs  of  modern  industry  and  a  highly  competent  thinker 
on  economic  matters.  Professor  L.  T.  Hobhouse  has 
kindly  read  the  proofs  and  given  me  valuable  advi  :e  on 
several  points. 


xviii  FOREWORD 

Sir  James  Frazer,  by  writing  his  Preface,  has  enhanced 
the  value  of  this  volume  beyond  its  merit  and  it  is  not  only 
a  great  honour  and  advantage  for  me  to  be  introduced 
by  him,  but  also  a  special  pleasure,  for  my  first  love  for 
ethnology  is  associated  with  the  reading  of  the  "  Golden 
Bough,"  then  in  its  second  edition. 

Last,  not  least,  I  wish  to  mention  Professor  C.  G. 
Seligman,  to  whom  this  book  is  dedicated.  The  initiative 
of  my  expedition  was  given  by  him  and  I  owe  him  more 
than  I  can  express  for  the  encouragement  and  scientific 
counsel  which  he  has  so  generously  given  me  during  the 
progress  of  my  work  in  New  Guinea. 


B.M. 


El  Boquin, 

Icod  de  los  Viuos, 

Tenerifc. 
April,  1921. 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

IT  is  in  the  nature  of  the  research,  that  an  Ethnographer  has 
to  rely  upon  the  assistance  of  others  to  an  extent  much  greater 
than  is  the  case  with  other  scientific  workers.  I  have  therefore 
to  express  in  this  special  place  my  obligations  to  the  many  who 
have  helped  me.  As  said  in  the  Preface,  financially  I  owe  mo^t 
to  Mr.  Robert  Mond.  who  made  my  work  possible  by  bestowing 
on  me  the  Robert  Mond  Travelling  Scholarship  (University  of 
London)  of  £250  per  annum  for  five  years  (for  1914  and  for  1917 
-1920).  I  was  substantially  helped  by  a  grant  of  £250  from 
the  Home  and  Territories  Department  of  Australia,  obtained 
by  the  good  offices  of  Mr.  Atlee  Hunt,  C.M.G.  The  London 
School  of  Economics  awarded  me  the  Constance  Hutchinson 
Scholarship  of  £100  yearly  for  two  years,  1915-1916.  Professor 
Scligman,  to  whom  in  this,  as  in  other  matters  I  owe  so  much, 
besides  helping  me  in  obtaining  all  the  other  grants,  gave  himself 
£100  towards  the  cost  of  the  expedition  and  equipped  me  with 
a  camera,  a  phonograph,  anthropometric  instruments  and  other 
paraphernalia  of  ethnographic  work.  I  went  out  to  Australia 
with  the  British  Association  for  the  Advancement  of  Science 
in  1914,  as  a  guest,  and  at  the  expense,  of  the  Commonwealth 
Government  of  Australia. 

It  may  be  interesting  for  intending  field-workers  to  observe 
that  I  carried  out  my  ethnographic  research  for  six  years — 
1914  to  1920 — making  three  expeditions  to  the  field  of  my  work, 
and  devoting  the  intervals  between  expeditions  to  the  working 
out  of  my  material  and  to  the  study  of  special  literature,  on 
little  more  than  £250  a  year.  I  defrayed  out  of  this,  not  only  ail 
the  expenses  of  travel  and  research,  such  as  fares,  wages  to 
native  servants,  payments  of  interpreters,  but  I  was  also  able  to 
collect  a  fair  amount  of  ethnographic  specimens,  of  which  part 
has  been  presented  to  the  Melbourne  Museum  as  the  Robert 
Mond  Collection.  This  would  not  have  been  possible  for  me, 
had  I  not  received  much  help  from  residents  in  New  Guinea. 
My  friend,  Mr.  B.  Hancock,  of  Gusaweta,  Trobriand  Islands, 
allowed  me  to  use  his  house  and  store  as  base  for  my  gear  and 
provisions  ;  he  lent  me  his  cutter  on  various  occasions  and  pro- 
vided me  with  a  home,  where  I  could  always  repair  in  need  or 
sickness.  He  helped  me  in  my  photographic  work,  and  gave  me  a 
good  number  of  his  own  photographic  plates,  of  which  several  are 
reproduced  in  this  book  (Plates  XI,  XXXVII,  and  L-LII). 

Other  pearl  traders  and  buyers  of  the  Trobriands  were  also 
very  kind  to  me,  especially  M.  and  Mme.  Raphael  Brudo,  of 


xx  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

Paris,  Messrs.  C.  and  G.  Auerbach,  and  the  late  Mr.  Mick  George, 
all  of  whom  helped  me  in  various  ways  and  extended  to  me  their 
kind  hospitality. 

In  niy  interim  studies  in  Melbourne,  I  received  much  help 
from  the  staff  of  the  excellent  Public  Library  of  Victoria,  for 
which  I  have  to  thank  the  Librarian,  Mr.  E.  La  Touche  Armstrong, 
my  friend  Mr.  E.  Pitt,  Mr.  Cooke  and  others. 

Two  maps  and  two  plates  are  reproduced  by  kind  permission 
of  Professor  Seligman  from  his  "  Melanesians  of  British  New 
Guinea/'  I  have  to  thank  the  Editor  of  Man  (Captain  T.  A. 
Joyce)  for  his  permission  to  use  here  again  the  plates  which 
were  previously  published  in  that  paper. 

Mr.  William  Swan  Stallybrass,  Senior  Managing  Director  of 
Messrs.  Geo.  Routledge  &  Sons,  Ltd.,  has  spared  no  trouble  in 
meeting  all  my  wishes  as  to  scientific  details  in  the  publication 
of  this  book,  for  which  I  wish  to  express  my  sincere  thanks 

PHONETIC  NOTE. 

The  native  names  and  words  in  this  book  are  written  according 
to  the  simple  rules,  recommended  by  the  Royal  Geographical 
Society  and  the  Royal  Anthropological  Institute.  That  is, 
the  vowels  are  to  be  pronounced  as  in  Italian  and  the  consonants 
as  in  English.  This  spelling  suits  the  sounds  of  the  Melanesian 
languages  of  New  Guinea  sufficiently  well.  The  apostrophe  placed 
between  two  vowels  indicates  that  they  should  be  pronounced 
separately  and  not  merged  into  a  diphthong.  The  accent  is  almost 
always  on  the  penultimate,  rarely  on  the  anti-penultimate. 
All  the  syllables  must  be  pronounced  clearly  and  distinctly. 


TABLE  OF  CONTENTS 


PAGI 


PREFACE  BY  SIR  JAMES  FRAZER  -        -      vii 

FOREWORD  BY  THE  AUTHOR  -        -        -        -      xv 

INTRODUCTION  :  THE  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  OF 
THIS  ENQUIRY 

I — Sailing,  and  trading  in  the  South  Seas ;  the 
Kula.  II— Method  in  Ethnography.  Ill- 
Starting  field  work.  Some  perplexing  difficul- 
ties. Three  conditions  of  success.  IV— Life 
in  a  tent  among  the  natives.  Mechanism  of 
"  getting  in  touch "  with  them.  V — Active 
methods  of  research.  Order  and  consistency  in 
savage  cultures.  Methodological  consequences 
of  this  truth.  VI — Formulating  the  principles 
of  tribal  constitution  and  of  the  anatomy  of  culture. 
Method  ot  inference  from  statistic  accumulation 
of  concrete  data.  Uses  of  synoptic  charts.  VII — 
Presentation  of  the  intimate  touches  of  native 
life  ;  of  types  of  behaviour.  Method  of  system- 
atic fixing  of  impressions  ;  of  detailed,  consecu- 
tive records.  Importance  of  personal  participa 
tion  in  native  life.  VIII — Recording  of  stereo- 
typed manners  of  thinking  and  feeling.  Corpus 
inscriptionum  Kiriwinensium  IX — Summary  of 
argument.  The  native's  vision  of  his  world  -  I 

CHAPTER 

I    THE  COUNTRY  AND   INHABITANTS  OF  THE   KULA 
DISTRICT 

I — Racial  divisions  in  Eastern  New  Guinea. 
Seligman's  classification.  The  Kula  natives. 
II — Sub-divisions  of  the  Kula  district.  Ill — 
Scenery  at  the  Eastern  end  of  New  Guinea. 
Villages  of  the  S.  Massim  ;  their  customs  and 
social  institutions.  IV — The  d'Entrecasteaux 
Archipelago.  The  tribes  of  Dobu.  The  mytho- 
logical associations  of  their  country.  Some  of 
their  customs  and  institutions.  Sorcery.  A 
vision  on  Sarubwoyna  beach.  V — Sailing  North. 
The  Amphlett  Group.  Savage  monopolists  -  27 


xxii  TABLE  OF  CONTENTS 

CHAPTER  PAGE 

II  THE  NATIVES  OF  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

I — Arrival  in  the  coral  Islands.  First  impression 
of  the  native.  Some  significant  appearances  and 
their  deeper  meaning.  II — Position  of  women  ; 
their  life  and  conduct  before  and  after  marriage. 
Ill — Further  exploration  in  the  villages.  A  cross 
country  walk.  Gardens  and  gardening.  IV — 
The  native's  working  power ;  their  motives  and 
incentives  to  work.  Magic  and  work.  A 
digression  on  Primitive  Economics.  V — Chief- 
tainship '  power  through  wealth  ;  a  plutocratic 
community.  List  of  the  various  provinces  and 
and  political  divisions  in  the  Trobriands.  VI — 
Totemism,  the  solidarity  of  clans  and  the  bonds 
of  kinship.  VII — Spirits  of  the  dead.  The 
overweening  importance  of  magic.  Black  magic. 
The  prowling  sorcerers  and  the  flying  witches. 
The  malevolent  visitors  from  the  South,  and 
epidemics.  VIII — The  Eastern  neighbours  of 
of  the  Trobrianders.  The  remaining  districts  of 
the  Kula  ______  -49 

III  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

I— A  concise  definition  of  the  Kula.  II — Its 
economic  character.  Ill — The  articles  exchanged ; 
the  conception  of  vaygu'a.  IV — The  main  rules 
and  aspects  of  the  Kula  :  the  sociological  aspect 
(partnership)  ;  direction  of  movement ;  nature 
of  Kula  ownership  ;  the  differential  and  integral 
effect  of  these  rules.  V — The  act  of  exchange ; 
its  regulations  ;  the  light  it  throws  on  the  acquisi- 
tive and  "  communistic "  tendencies  of  the 
natives  ;  its  concrete  outlines  ;  the  sollicitory 
gifts.  VI — The  associated  activities  and  the 
secondary  aspects  of  the  Kula :  construction  of 
canoes ;  subsidiary  trade — their  true  relation 
to  the  Kula  ;  the  ceremonial,  mythology  and 
magic  associated  with  the  Kula  ;  the  mortuary 
taboos  and  distributions,  in  their  relation  to  the 
Kula  _______  81 

IV    CANOES  AND  SAILING 

I — The  value  and  importance  of  a  canoe  to  a 
native.  Its  appearance,  the  impressions  and 
emotions  it  arouses  in  those  who  use  or  own  it. 
The  atmosphere  of  romance  which  surrounds  it 


TABLE  OF  CONTENTS  xxiii 

HAPTFR  P\CE 

for  the  native.  II — Analysis  of  its  construction, 
in  relation  to  its  function.  The  three  types  of 
canoes  in  the  Trobriand  Islands.  Ill — V — 
Sociology  of  a  large  canoe  (masawa).  Ill — (A) 
Social  organisation  of  labour  in  constructing  a 
canoe  ;  the  division  of  functions  ;  the  magical 
regulation  of  work.  IV — (B) — Sociology  of  canoe 
ownership  ;  the  /o/^-relationship  ;  the  toliwaga, 
"  master  "  or  "  owner  "  of  a  canoe  ;  the  four 
privileges  and  functions  of  a  toliwaga.  V — 
(C) — The  social  division  of  functions  in  manning 
and  sailing  a  canoe.  Statistical  data  about  the 
Trobriand  shipping  -  -  -  -  -  105 

V    THE  CEREMONIAL  BUILDING  OF  A  WAGA 

I — Construction  of  canoes  as  part  of  the  Kula 
proceedings.  Magic  and  mythology.  The  pre- 
paratory and  the  ceremonial  stage  of  construction 
II — The  first  stage  :  expelling  the  wood  sprite 
Tokway  ;  transport  of  the  log  ;  the  hollowing- 
out  of  the  log  and  the  associated  magic.  Ill — 
The  second  stage :  the  inaugural  rite  of  Kula  magic ; 
the  native  at  grips  with  problems  of  construction  ; 
the  wayugo  creeper ;  the  magical  spell  uttered 
over  it ;  caulking  ;  the  three  magical  exorcisms. 
IV — Some  general  remarks  about  the  two  stages 
of  canoe-building  and  the  concomitant  magic. 
Bulubwalata  (evil  magic)  of  canoes.  The  orna- 
mental prowboards.  The  Dobuan  and  the  Mur- 
uwan  types  of  overseas  canoe  -  -  -  124 

VI    LAUNCHING  OF  A  CANOE  AND  CEREMONIAL  VISITING 
— TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

I — The  procedure  and  magic  at  launching.  The 
trial  run  (tasasona).  Account  of  the  launching 
and  tasasoria  seen  on  the  beach  of  Kualukuba. 
Reflections  on  the  decay  of  customs  under  Euro- 
pean influence.  II — Digression  on  the  sociology  of 
work :  organisation  of  labour  ;  forms  of  commumal 
labour  ;  paymc  nt  for  work.  Ill— The  custom 
of  ceremonial  visiting  (kabigidoya)  ;  local  trade, 
done  on  such  expeditions.  IV — VII — Digression 
on  gifts,  payments,  and  exchange.  V — Attitude 
of  the  native  towards  wealth.  Desire  of  display. 
Enhancement  of  social  prestige  through  wealth. 
The  motives  of  accumulating  food  stuffs.  Tho 


xxiv  TABLE  OF  CONTENTS 

CHAPTER  PAGE 

vilamalya  (magic  of  plenty).  The  handling  of 
yams.  Psychology  of  eating.  Value  of  manu- 
factured goods,  psychologically  analysed.  V — 
Motives  for  exchange.  Giving,  as  satisfaction  of 
vanity  and  as  display  of  power.  Fallacy  of  the 
"  economically  isolated  individual  "  or  "  house- 
hold." Absence  of  gain  in  exchange.  VI— 
Exchange  of  gifts  and  barter.  List  of  gifts,  pay- 
ments and  commercial  transactions :  i.  Pure 
gifts ;  2.  customary  payments,  repaid  irregu- 
larly and  without  strict  equivalents ;  3.  pay- 
ments for  services  rendered ;  4.  gifts  returned 
in  strictly  equivalent  form ;  5.  exchange  of 
material  goods  against  privileges,  titles  and  non- 
material  possessions  ;  6.  ceremonial  barter  with 
deferred  payment ;  7.  trade  pure  and  simple. 
VI — Economic  duties  corresponding  to  various 
social  ties  ;  table  of  eight  classes  of  social  relation- 
ship, characterised  by  definite  economic  obliga- 
tions ______  146 

VII    THE  DEPARTURE  OF  AN  OVERSEAS  EXPEDITION 

Scene  laid  in  Sinaketa.  The  local  chiefs.  Stir 
in  the  village.  The  social  differentiation  of  the 
sailing  party.  Magical  rites,  associated  with  the 
preparing  and  loading  of  a  canoe.  The  sulu- 
mwoya  rite.  The  magical  bundle  (lilava).  The 
compartments  of  a  canoe  and  the  gebobo  spell. 
Farewells  on  the  beach  -  -  -  -  -  195 

VIII    THE  FIRST  HALT  OF  THE  FLEET  ON  MUWA 

I — The  definition  of  an  uvalaku  (ceremonial,  com- 
petitive expedition).  II — The  sagali  (ceremonial 
distribution)  on  Muwa.  Ill — The  magic  of 
saijing  _  _  _  _  _  207 

IX    SAILING  ON  THE  SEA-ARM  OF  PILOLU 

I — The  landscape.  Mythological  geography  of  the 
regions  beyond.  II — Sailing :  the  winds ; 
navigation  ;  technique  of  sailing  a  canoe  and  its 
dangers.  Ill — The  customs  and  taboos  of  sailing. 
Privileged  position  of  certain  sub-clans.  IV — 
The  beliefs  in  dreadful  monsters  lurking  in  the 
sea  _______  219 


TABLE  OF  CONTENTS  xxv 


X    THE  STORY  OF  SHIPWRECK 

I — The  flying  witches,  mulukwausi  or  yoyova  : 
essentials  of  the  belief ;  initiation  and  education 
of  a  yoyova  (witch)  ;  secrecy  surrounding  this  con- 
dition ;  manner  of  practising  this  witch-craft ; 
actual  cases.  II — The  flying  witches  at  sea 
and  in  ship-wreck.  Other  dangerous  agents. 
The  kayga'u  magic ;  its  modes  of  operation. 
Ill — Account  of  the  preparatory  rites  of  kayga'u. 
Some  incantations  quoted.  IV — The  story  of 
ship-wreck  and  rescue.  V — The  spell  of  the 
rescuing  giant  fish.  The  myth  and  the  magical 
formula  of  Tokulubwaydoga.  -  -  -  -  237 

XI    IN  THE  AMPHLETTS — SOCIOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

I — Arrival  in  Gumasila.  Example  of  a  Kula 
conversation.  Trobrianders  on  long  visits  in  the 
Amphletts.  II — Sociology  of  the  Kula  :  i.  socio- 
logical limitations  to  participation  in  the  Kula; 
2.  relation  of  Partnership  ;  3.  entering  the  Kula 
relationship  ;  4.  participation  of  women  in  the 
Kula.  Ill — The  Natives  of  the  Amphletts  :  their 
industries  and  trade  ;  pottery  ;  importing  the 
clay ;  technology  of  pot-making ;  commercial 
relations  with  the  surrounding  districts.  IV — 
Drift  of  migrations  and  cultural  influences  in  this 
province  _______  267 

XII    IN  TEWARA  AND  SANAROA — MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE 
KULA 

I — Sailing  under  the  lee  of  Koytabu.  The  canni- 
bals of  the  unexplored  jungle.  Trobriand  tradi- 
tions and  legends  about  them.  The  history  and 
song  of  Gumagabu.  II — Myths  and  reality : 
significance  imparted  to  landscape  by  myth ; 
line  of  distinction  between  the  mythical  and  the 
actual  occurrences  ;  magical  power  and  mythical 
atmosphere  ;  the  three  strata  of  Trobriand  myths. 
Ill — V — The  myths  of  the  Kula.  Ill — Survey  of 
Kula  mythology  and  its  geographical  distribu- 
tion. The  story  of  Gere'u  of  Muyuwa  (Wood- 
lark  Island).  The  two  stories  of  Tokosikuna 
of  Digumenu  and  Gumasila.  IV — The  Kudayuri 
myth  of  the  flying  canoe.  Commentary .  and 
analysis  of  this  myth.  Association  between  the 


xxvi  TABLE  OF  CONTENTS 


canoe  and  the  flying  witches.  Mythology  and 
the  Lukuba  clan.  V — The  "myth  of  Kasabway- 
bwayreta  and  the  necklace  Gumakarakedakeda. 
Comparison  of  these  stories.  VI — Sociological 
analysis  of  the  myths  :  influence  of  the  Kula  myths 
upon  native  outlook  ;  myth  and  custom.  VII — 
The  relation  between  myth  and  actuality  restated. 
VIII — The  story,  the  natural  monuments  and 
the  religious  ceremonial  of  the  mythical  per- 
sonalities Atu'a'ine,  Aturamo'a  and  their  sister 
Sinatemubadiye'i.  Other  rocks  of  similar  tradi- 
tional nature  -  -  -  -  -  -  290 

XIII  ON  THE  BEACH  OF  SARUBWOYNA 

I — The  halt  on  the  Beach.  The  beauty  magic 
Some  incantations  quoted.  The  spell  of  the 
ta'uya  (conch  shell).  II — The  magical  onset  on 
the  Koya.  Psychological  analysis  of  this  magic. 
Ill — The  Gwara  (taboo)  and  the  Ka'ubana'i 
spell  --------  334 

XIV  THE     KULA   IN   DOBU — TECHNICALITIES   OF  THE 
EXCHANGE 

I — Reception  in  Dobu.  II — The  main  transactions 
of  the  Kula  and  the  subsidiary  gifts  and  exchanges  : 
some  general  reflections  on  the  driving  force  of  the 
Kula ;  regulations  of  the  main  transaction ; 
vaga  (opening  gift)  and  yotile  (return  gift) ; 
the  sollicitory  gifts  (pokala,  kwaypolu,  kaributu, 
korotomna)  ;  intermediary  gifts  (basi)  and  final 
clinching  gift  (kudu) ;  the  other  articles  some- 
times exchanged  in  the  main  transaction  of 
the  Kula  (doga,  samakupa,  beku)  ;  commercial 
honour  and  ethics  of  the  Kula.  Ill — The  Kula 
proceedings  in  Dobu :  wooing  the  partner ; 
kwoygapani  magic  ;  the  subsidiary  trade  ;  roam- 
ings  of  the  Boy o wans  in  the  Dobu  district  -  -  350 

XV    THE  JOURNEY  HOME — THE  FISHING  AND  WORKING 
OF  THE  KALOMA  SHELL 

I — Visits  made  on  the  return  trip.  Some  articles 
acquired.  II — The  spondylus  shell  fishing  in 
Sanaroa  lagoon  and  in  home  waters  :  its  general 
character  and  magic  ;  the  Kaloma  myth  ;  con- 
secutive account  of  the  technicalities,  ceremonial 


TABLE  OF  CONTENTS  xxvii 


and  magic  of  the  diving  for  the  shell.  Ill — 
Technology,  economics  and  sociology  of  the  pro- 
duction of  the  discs  and  necklaces  from  the  shell. 
IV — Tanarere,  display  of  the  haul.  Arrival 
of  the  party  home  to  Sinaketa  -  366 

XVI  THE  RETURN  VISIT  OF  THE  DOBUANS  TO  SINAKETA 
I — The  uvalaku  (ceremonial  expedition)  from  Dobu 
to  Southern  Boyowa  :  the  preparations  in  Dobu  and 
Sanaroa  ;  preparations  in  Gumasila  ;  the  excite- 
ment, the  spreading  and  convergence  of  news ; 
arrival  of  the  Dobuan  fleet  in  Nabwageta.  II — 
Preparations  in  Sinaketa  for  the  reception  of  the 
visiting  party.  The  Dobuans  arrive.  The  scene 
at  Kaykuyawa  point.  The  ceremonial  reception. 
Speeches  and  gifts.  The  three  days'  sojurn 
of  the  Dobuans  in  Sinaketa.  Manner  of  living. 
Exchange  of  gifts  and  barter.  Ill — Return 
home.  Results  shown  at  the  tanarere  -  -  376 

XVII    MAGIC  AND  THE  KULA 

I — The  subject  matter  of  Boyowan  magic. 
Its  association  with  all  the  vital  activities  and 
with  the  unaccountable  aspects  of  reality.  II — 
V — The  native  conception  of  magic.  II — The 
methods  of  arriving  at  its  knowledge.  Ill — 
Native  views  about  the  original  sources  of  magic. 
Its  primeval  character.  Inadmissability  to  the 
native  of  spontaneous  generation  in  magic. 
Magic  a  power  of  man  and  not  a  force  of  nature. 
Magic  and  myth  and  their  super-normal  atmo- 
sphere. IV — The  magical  acts  :  spell  and  rite  ; 
relation  between  these  two  factors ;  spells 
uttered  directly  without  a  concomitant  rite  ; 
spells  accompanied  by  simple  rite  of  impregna- 
tion ;  spells  accompanied  by  a  rite  of  trans- 
ference ;  spells  accompanied  by  offerings  and 
invocations ;  summary  of  this  survey.  V — 
Place  where  magic  is  stored  in  the  human  anatomy. 
VI — Condition  of  the  performer.  Taboos  and 
observances.  Sociological  position.  Actual 
descent  and  magical  filiation.  VII — Definition 
of  systematic  magic.  The  "  systems  "  of  canoe 
magic  and  Kula  magic.  VIII — Supernormal  or 
supernatural  character  of  magic;  emotional 
reaction  of  the  natives  to  certain  forms  of  magic  ; 


xxviii  TABLE  OF  CONTENTS 


the  kariyala  (magical  portent) ;  role  of  ancestral 
spirits ;  native  terminplogy.  IX — Ceremonial 
setting  of  magic.  X — Institution  of  taboo,  sup- 
ported by  magic.  Kaytubutabu  and  kaytapaku. 
XI — Purchase  ol  certain  forms  of  magic.  Pay- 
ments for  magical  services.  XII  —  Brief 
summary  -  -  -  -  -  -  %  -  392 

XVIII    THE     POWER     OF     WORDS     IN      MAGIC— SOME 
LINGUISTIC  DATA 

I — Study  of  linguistic  data  in  magic  to  throw 
light  on  native  ideas  about  the  power  of  words. 
1 1 — The  text  of  the  wayugo  spell  with  literal  trans- 
lation. Ill — Linguistic  analysis  of  its  u'ula  (exor- 
dium). IV — Vocal  technique  of  reciting  a  spell. 
Analysis  of  the  tapwana  (main  part)  and  dogina 
(final  part).  V — The  text  of  the  Sulumwoya 
spell  and  its  analysis.  VI — XII — Linguistic 
data  referring  to  the  other  spells  mentioned  in  this 
volume  and  some  general  inferences.  VI — The 
tokway  spell  and  the  opening  phrases  of  the  canoe 
spells.  VII — The  tapwana  (main  parts)  of  the 
canoe  spells.  VIII — The  end  parts  (dogina)  of 
these  spells.  IX — The  u'ula  of  the  mwasila 
spells.  X — The  tapwana  and  the  dogina  of  these 
spells.  XI — The  kayga'u  spells.  XII — Sum- 
mary of  the  results  of  this  linguistic  survey. 
XIII — Substances  used  in  these  magical  rites. 
XIV — XVIII — Analysis  of  some  non-magical 
linguistic  texts,  to  illustrate  ethnographic 
method  and  native  way  of  thinking.  XIV — 
General  remarks  about  certain  aspects  of 
method.  XV — Text  No.  i,  its  literal  and  free 
translation.  XVI — Commentary.  XVII — Texts 
No.  2  and  3  translated  and  commented  upon  -  428 

XIX    THE  INLAND  KULA 

I — To'uluwa,  the  chief  of  Kiriwina,  on  a  visit 
in  Sinaketa.  The  decay  of  his  power.  Some 
melancholy  reflections  about  the  folly  of  destroy- 
ing the  native  order  of  things  and  of  under- 
mining native  authority  as  now  prevailing.  II — 
The  division  into  "  Kula  communities  ;  "  the 
three  types  of  Kula,  with  respect  to  this  division. 
The  overseas  Kula.  Ill — The  inland  Kula 


TABLE  OF  CONTENTS  xxix 

CHAPTER  PACE 

between  two  "  Kula  communities  "  and  within 
such  a  unit.  IV — The  "Kula  communities"  in 
Boyowa  (Trobriand  Islands)  -  -  -  464 

XX    EXPEDITIONS  BETWEEN  KIRIWINA  AND  KITAVA 

I,  II — Account  of  an  expedition  from  Kinwina 
to  Kitava.  I — Fixing  dates  and  preparing 
districts.  II — Preliminaries  of  the  journey. 
Departure  from  Kaulukuba  Beach.  Sailing. 
Analogies  and  differences  between  these  expedi- 
tions and  those  of  the  Sinaketans  to  Dobu. 
Entering  the  village.  The  youlawada  custom. 
Sojourn  in  Kitava  and  return.  Ill — The  So'i 
(mortuary  feast)  in  the  Eastern  district  (Kitava 
to  Muyuwa)  and  its  association  with  the  Kula  ~  47^ 

XXI    THE   REMAINING   BRANCHES   AND   OFFSHOOTS   OF 
THE  KULA 

I — Rapid  survey  of  the  routes  between  Wood- 
lark  Island  (Murua  or  Muyuwa)  and  the  Engineer 
group  and  between  this  latter  and  Dobu.  II — 
The  ordinary  trade  carried  on  between  these 
communities.  Ill — An  offshoot  of  the  Kula ; 
trading  expeditions  between  the  Western  Tro- 
briand (Kavataria  and  Kayleula)  and  the 
Western  d'Entrecasteaux.  IV — Production  of 
mwali  (armshells)  V — Some  other  offshoots  and 
leakages  of  the  Kula  ring.  Entry  of  the  Kula 
vaygu'a  into  the  Ring.  -  _  _  -  -  40^ 

XXII    THE  MEANING  OF  THE  KULA      -       -       -       ~    5<>c 
INDEX       --------510 


LIST  OF  ILLUSTRATIONS 


A  CEREMONIAL  ACT  OF  THE  KULA    - 


Frontispiece 


ON 


FACING    PAGE 

THE   BEACH    OF 

6 


HUT)       IN 


I     THE   ETHNOGRAPHER'S   TENT 

NU'AGASI     ------ 

II     THE       CHIEFS       LISIGA        (PERSONAL 

OMARAKANA        --------6 

III  STREET   OF    KASANA'I    (IN    KIRIWINA,   TROBRIAND 

ISLAND)        --------         -7 

IV  SCENE  IN  YOURAWOTU  (TROBRIANDS)  7 
V     SCENES   ON   THE   BEACH    OF   SILOSILO    (SOUTHERN 

MASSIM  DISTRICT)       -                                                            -  36 

VI     VILLAGE  SCENES  DURING  A  SO'/  FEAST                       -  37 

VII     IN  THE  AMPHLETTS      -                                                         -  46 
VIII     GROUP  OF  NATIVES  IN  THE    VILLAGE  OF  TUKWA'- 

UKWA            -         --------  48 

IX    MEN  OF  RANK  FROM  KIRIWINA                                       -  49 

X     FISHERMEN  FROM  TEYAVA                                                 -  49 
XI     A       TYPICAL       NAKUBUKWABUYA        (UNMARRIED 

WOMAN)        ---------  52 

XII     BOYOWAN  GIRLS  -------33 

XIII  KAYDEBU  DANCE           _____--  56 

XIV  DANCERS  IN  FULL  DECORATION                                        -  57 
XV     A  FAMILY  GROUP           -                                                         -  72 

XVI     ARMSHELLS              -_____-_  80 

XVII     TWO  MEN  WEARING  ARMSHELLS        -        -        -        -  81 

XVIII     TWO  NECKLACES,  MADE  OF  RED  SPONDYLUS  DISCS  -  88 

XIX     TWO  WOMEN  ADORNED  WITH  NECKLACES                 -  89 

XX     A  KULA  GATHERING  ON  THE  BEACH  OF  SINAKETA  -  98 

XXI     A  MAS  AW  A  CANOE        -------  106 

XXII     PUTTING  A  CANOE  INTO  ITS  HANGAR        -        -        -  106 

XXIII  CANOE  UNDER  SAIL      -------  107 

XXIV  THE  FISHING  CANOE  (KAL1POULO)              ~        -        -  112 
XXV    THE  DUG-OUT  IN  THE  VILLAGE                                        -  124 

XXVI     CARVING  A  TABUYO     -------  125 

XXVII     CONSTRUCTION  OF  A  WAG  A          -        -        -        -        -  138 

XXVIII     SAIL  MAKING          --------139 

XXIX     ROLLS  OF  DRIED  PANDANUS  LEAF              -        -        -  139 

XXX     LAUNCHING  OF  A  CANOE     ------  148 

XXXI     THE  TASASORIA  ON  THE  BEACH  OF  KAULUKUBA      -  148 

XXXII     A  CHIEF'S  YAM-HOUSE  IN  KASANA'I            -        -        -  149 

XXXIII     FILLING  A  YAM-HOUSE  IN  YALUMUGWA            -        -  149 

XXIV     DISPLAY  OF  PIGS  AND  YAMS  AT  A  DISTRIBUTION 

(SAGALI)                 __-_---_  170 

XXXV    COMMUNAL  COOKING  OF  MONA  (TARO  DUMPLINGS)  -  170 
XXXVI     SCENE  IN  THE  WASI  (CEREMONIAL  EXCHANGE  OF 

VEGETABLES  FOR  FISH)             -        -        -        -        -  171 

XXXVII     VA  VA,  DIRECT  BARTER  OF  VEGETABLES  FOR  FISH-  171 

XXXVIII     KOUTAU'YA,  ONE  OF  THE  CHIEFS  OF  SINAKETA         -  196 

XXXIX    A  LOADED  CANOE          -        -        -        -        -        -        -197 


LIST  OF  ILLUSTRATIONS 


XXXI 


PLATE  PACING   PAGP 

XL  A  WAGA  SAILING  ON  A  KULA  EXPEDITION  -        -  224 

XLI  THE  RIGGING  OF  A  CANOE  -  225 

XLII  SCENERY  IN  THE  AMPHLETTS  -  268 

XLIII  LANDING  IN  THE  MAIN  VILLAGE  OF  GUMASILA  -  269 

XLIV  TECHNOLOGY  OF  POT-MAKING  (I)        -  284 

XLV  TECHNOLOGY  OF  POT-MAKING  (II)       -        -  -        -  285 

XLVI  FINE  SPECIMENS  OF  AMPHLETT  POTS         -  -         -  288 

XLVII  A  CANOE  IN  GUMASILA  LOADING  POTS      -  -         -  289 

XLVIII     A  KULA  FLEET  HALTING  TO  PERFORM  THE  FINAL 

RITES  OF  MWASILA  ------     334 

XLIX  THE  BEAUTY  MAGIC  OF  THE  MWASILA              -        -  335 

L  (A)  WORKING  THE  KALOMA  SHELL  (I)---  370 

L  (B)  WORKING  THE  KALOMA  SHELL  (II)     -         -        -  371 

LI  WORKING  THE  KALOMA  SHELL  (III)           -         -         -  372 

LII  WORKING  THE  KALOMA  SHELL  (IV)           -        -         -  373 

LIII  ON  THE  BEACH  OF  NABWAGETA                                       -  376 

LIV     THE   DOBUAN   CANOES    PULLED    UP   ON   SINAKETA 

BEACH  ________     388 

LV  SOME  CANOES  MOORED  ON  THE  SHALLOW  LAGOON 

NEAR  THE  SHORE      -------  388 

LVI  DOBUAN  VISITORS  IN  SINAKETA                                       -  389 

LVII  A  MAGICAL  SPELL  ASSOCIATED  WITH  PREGNANCY   -  406 

LVIII  A  RITE  OF  WAR  MAGIC         ------  406 

LIX  A  RITE  OF  GARDEN  MAGIC           -         -         -        -         -  407 

LX  ARMSHELLS  BROUGHT  FROM  KITAVA         -         -        -470 

LXI  BRINGING  IN  A  SOU  LAV  A              -         -         -        -         -  471 

LXII  OFFERING  THE  SO ULAVA                                                      -  471 

LXIII  CEREMONIAL  DESTRUCTION  DURING  A  SO9 1  FEAST  -  486 

LXIV  NAGEGA  CANOE      --------  496 

LXV  A  CORPSE  COVERED  WITH  VALUABLES      -         -         -  512 

MAPS 

I  EASTERN  NEW  GUINEA         ------  XXxn 

II  RACIAL  DISTRIBUTION  IN  EASTERN  NEW  GUINEA  -       26 

III  THE  KULA  DISTRICT  -        _                                       -       30 

IV  THE  TROBRIAND  ARCHIPELAGO  -       50 
V  THE  KULA  RING             -----                          82 

TABLES 

I     CHRONOLOGICAL  LIST  OF  KULA  EVENTS  WITNESSED 

BY  THE  WRITER         ------         -        16 

II     TIME-TABLE  OF  THE  UVALAKU  EXPEDITION,  DOBU 

TO  SINAKETA,  1918     -        -        -        -        -        -        -381 

III     TABLE  OF  KULA  MAGIC  AND  OF  THE  CORRESPOND- 

ING  ACTIVITIES  ___-_-       415-418 

FIGURES  IN  TEXT 

I     DIAGRAM  OF  CANOE  STABILITY  AND  CONSTRUCTION     109 
II     DIAGRAMATIC  SECTIONS  OF  CANOES  -        -         -     nr 


MAP  I — The  native  names  and  their  spelling  on  this  and  the  following  map  conform  to  the 

traditional  nomenclature  to  be  found  on  charts  and  old  maps.     Maps  III-V  show  the 

native  names  as  ascertained  by  myself  and  phonetically  spelled. 


INTRODUCTION 

THE   SUBJECT,   METHOD   AND   SCOPE  OF  THIS 
INQUIRY 


coastal  populations  of  the  South  Sea  Islands,  with  very 
JL  few  exceptions,  are,  or  were  before  their  extinction,  expert 
navigators  and  traders.  Several  of  them  had  evolved  excellent 
types  of  large  sea-going  canoes,  and  used  to  embark  in  them 
on  distant  trade  expeditions  or  raids  of  war  and  conquest. 
The  Papuo-Melanesians,  who  inhabit  the  coast  and  the  out- 
lying islands  of  New  Guinea,  are  no  exception  to  this  rule.  In 
general  they  are  daring  sailors,  industrious  manufacturers, 
and  keen  traders.  The  manufacturing  centres  of  important 
articles,  such  as  pottery,  stone  implements,  canoes,  fine  baskets, 
valued  ornaments,  are  localised  in  several  places,  according  to 
the  .skill  of  the  inhabitants,  their  inherited  tribal  tradition, 
and  special  facilities  offered  by  the  district ;  thence  they  are 
traded  over  wide  areas,  sometimes  travelling  more  than 
hundreds  of  miles. 

Definite  forms  of  exchange  along  definite  trade  routes  are 
to  be  found  established  between  the  various  tribes.  A  most 
remarkable  form  of  intertribal  trade  is  that  obtaining  between 
the  Motu  of  Port  Moresby  and  the  tribes  of  the  Papuan  Gulf. 
The  Motu  sail  for  hundreds  of  miles  in  heavy,  unwieldy  canoes, 
called  lakatoi,  which  are  provided  with  the  characteristic 
ciab-claw  sails.  They  bring  pottery  and  shell  ornaments,  in 
olden  days,  stone  blades,  to  Gulf  Papuans,  from  whom  they 
obtain  in  exchange  sago  and  the  heavy  dug-outs,  which  are 
used  afterwards  by  the  Motu  for  the  construction  of  their 
lakatoi  canoes.* 

*  The  Am,  as  these  expeditions  are  called  in  Motuan,  have  been  described 
with  a  great  wealth  of  detail  and  clearness  of  outline  by  Captain  F.  Barton, 
in  C.  G.  Seligman's  "The  Melanesians  of  British  New  Guinea,"  Cambridge, 
1910,  Chapter  viii. 


2  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

Further  East,  on  the  South  coast,  there  lives  the  industrious, 
sea-faring  population  of  the  Mailu,  who  link  the  East  End  of 
New  Guinea  with  the  central  coast  tribes  by  means  of  annual 
trading  expeditions.*  Finally,  the  natives  of  the  islands 
and  archipelagoes,  scattered  around  the  East  End,  are  in 
constant  trading  relations  with  one  another.  We  possess  in 
Professor  Seligman's  book  an  excellent  description  Qf  the 
subject,  especially  of  the  nearer  trades  routes  between  the 
various  islands  inhabited  by  the  Southern  Massim.f  There 
exists,  however,  another,  a  very  extensive  and  highly  complex 
trading  system,  embracing  with  its  ramifications,  not  only  the 
islands  near  the  East  End,  but  also  the  Louisiades,  Woodlark 
Island,  the  Trobriand  Archipelago,  and  the  d'Entrecasteaux 
group ;  it  penetrates  into  the  mainland  of  New  Guinea,  and 
exerts  an  indirect  influence  over  several  outlying  districts, 
such  as  Rossel  Island,  and  some  parts  of  the  Northern  and 
Southern  coast  of  New  Guinea.  This  trading  system,  the  Kula, 
is  the  subject  I  am  setting  out  to  describe  in  this  volume,  and 
it  will  be  seen  that  it  is  an  economic  phenomenon  of  considera- 
able  theoretical  importance.  It  looms  paramount  in  the  tribal 
life  of  those  natives  who  live  within  its  circuit,  and  its  impor- 
tance is  fully  realised  by  the  tribesmen  themselves,  whose  ideas, 
ambitions,  desires  and  vanities  are  very  much  bound  up  with 
the  Kula. 

II 

Before  proceeding  to  the  account  of  the  Kula,  it  will  be  well 
to  give  a  description  of  the  methods  used  in  the  collecting  of 
the  ethnographic  material.  The  results  of  scientific  research 
in  any  branch  of  learning  ought  to  be  presented  in  a  manner 
absolutely  candid  and  above  board.  No  one  would  dream 
of  making  an  experimental  contribution  to  physical  or  chemical 
science,  without  giving  a  detailed  account  of  all  the  arrange- 
ments of  the  experiments ;  an  exact  description  of  the  apparatus 
used  ;  of  the  manner  in  which  the  observations  were  conducted ; 
of  their  number ;  of  the  length  of  time  devoted  to  them,  and 
of  the  degree  of  approximation  with  which  each  measurement 
was  made.  In  less  exact  sciences,  as  in  biology  or  geology, 

*  Cf.  "  The  Mailu/'  by  B.  Malinowski,  in  Transactions  of  the  R.  Society 
of  S.  Australia,  1915  ;  Chapter  iv.  4,  pp.  612  to  629. 

f  Op.  cit.     Chapter  xl. 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  3 

this  cannot  be  done  as  rigorously,  but  every  student  will  do 
his  best  to  bring  home  to  the  reader  all  the  conditions  in  which 
the  experiment  or  the  observations  were  made.  In  Ethno- 
graphy, where  a  candid  account  of  such  data  is  perhaps  even 
more  necessary,  it  has  unfortunately  in  the  past  not  always 
been  supplied  with  sufficient  generosity,  and  many  writers  do 
not  ply  the  full  searchlight  of  methodic  sincerity,  as  they  move 
among  their  facts  and  produce  them  before  us  out  of  complete 
obscurity. 

It  would  be  easy  to  quote  works  of  high  repute,  and  with  a 
scientific  hall-mark  on  them,  in  which  wholesale  generalisations 
are  laid  down  before  us,  and  we  are  not  informed  at  all  by  what 
actual  experiences  the  writers  have  reached  their  conclusion. 
No  special  chapter  or  paragraph  is  devoted  to  describing  to  us 
the  conditions  under  which  observations  were  made  and  infor- 
mation collected.  I  consider  that  only  such  ethnographic 
sources  are  of  unquestionable  scientific  value,  in  which  we  can 
clearly  draw  the  line  between,  on  the  one  hand,  the  results  of 
direct  observation  and  of  native  statements  and  interpretations, 
and  on  the  other,  the  inferences  of  the  author,  based  on  his 
common  sense  and  psycholgical  insight.*  Indeed,  some  such 
survey,  as  that  contained  in  the  table,  given  below  (Div.  VI  of 
this  chapter)  ought  to  be  forthcoming,  so  that  at  a  glance  the 
reader  could  estimate  with  precision  the  degree  of  the  writer's 
personal  acquaintance  with  the  facts  which  he  describes,  and 
form  an  idea  under  what  conditions  information  had  been 
obtained  from  the  natives. 

Again,  in  historical  science,  no  one  could  expect  to  be 
seriously  treated  if  he  made  any  mystery  of  his  sources  and 
spoke  of  the  past  as  if  he  knew  it  by  divination.  In  Ethno- 
graphy, the  writer  is  his  own  chronicler  and  the  historian  at 
the  same  time,  while  his  sources  are  no  doubt  easily  accessible, 
but  also  supremely  elusive  and  complex  ;  they  are  not 
embodied  in  fixed,  material  documents,  but  in  the  behaviour 
and  in  the  memory  of  living  men.  In  Ethnography,  the 
distance  is  often  enormous  between  the  brute  material  of 

*  On  this  point  of  method  again,  we  are  indebted  to  the  Cambridge  School 
of  Anthropology  for  having  introduced  the  really  scientific  way  of  dealing  with 
the  question.  More  especially  in  the  writings  of  Haddon,  Rivers  and  Seligman, 
the  distinction  between  inference  and  observation  is  always  clearly  drawn,  and 
we  can  visualise  with  perfect  precision  the  conditions  under  which  the  work 
was  done. 


4  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

information — as  it  is  presented  to  the  student  in  his  own  obser- 
vations, in  native  statement,  in  the  kaleidoscope  of  tribal  life — 
and  the  final  authoritative  presentation  of  the  results.  The 
Ethnographer  has  to  traverse  this  distance  in  the  laborious 
years  between  the  moment  when  he  sets  foot  upon  a  native 
beach,  and  makes  his  first  attempts  to  get  into  touch  with  the 
natives,  and  the  time  when  he  writes  down  the  final  version  of 
his  results.  A  brief  outline  of  an  Ethnographer's  tribulations, 
as  lived  through  by  myself,  may  throw  more  light  on  the 
question,  than  any  long  abstract  discussion  could  do, 

III 

Imagine  yourself  suddenly  set  down  surrounded  by  all 
your  gear,  alone  on  a  tropical'  beach  close  to  a  native  village, 
while  the  launch  or  dinghy  which  has  brought  you  sails  away 
out  of  sight.  Since  you  take  up  your  abode  in  the  compound  of 
some  neighbouring  white  man,  trader  or  missionary,  you  have 
nothing  to  do,  but  to  start  at  once  on  your  ethnographic  work. 
Imagine  further  that  you  are  a  beginner,  without  previous 
experience,  with  nothing  to  guide  you  and  no  one  to  help  you. 
For  the  white  man  is  temporarily  absent,  or  else  unable  or 
unwilling  to  waste  any  of  his  time  on  you.  This  exactly 
describes  my  first  initiation  into  field  work  on  the  south  coast 
of  New  Guinea.  I  well  remember  the  long  visits  I  paid  to  the 
villages  during  the  first  weeks  ;  the  feeling  of  hopelessness  and 
despair  after  many  obstinate  but  futile  attempts  had  entirely 
failed  to  bring  me  into  real  touch  with  the  natives,  or  supply 
me  with  any  material.  I  had  periods  of  despondency,  when  I 
buried  myself  in  the  reading  ot  novels,  as  a  man  might  take 
to  drink  in  a  fit  of  tropical  depression  and  boredom. 

Imagine  yourself  then,  making  your  first  entry  into  the 
village,  alone  or  in  company  with  your  white  cicerone.  Some 
natives  flock  round  you,  especially  if  they  smell  tobacco. 
Others,  the  more  dignified  and  elderly,  remain  seated  where  they 
are.  Your  white  companion  has  his  routine  way  of  treating  the 
natives,  and  he  neither  understands,  nor  is  very  much  concerned 
with  the  manner  in  which  you,  as  an  ethnographer,  will  have 
to  approach  them.  *  The  first  visit  leaves  you  with  a  hopeful 
feeling  that  when  you  return  alone,  things  will  be  easier.  Such 
was  my  hope  at  least. 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  5 

I  came  back  duly,  and  soon  gathered  an  audience  around 
me.  A  few  compliments  in  pidgin-English  on  both  sides,  some 
tobacco  changing  hands,  induced  an  atmosphere  of  mutual 
amiability.  I  tried  then  to  proceed  to  business.  First,  to 
begin  with  subjects  which  might  arouse  no  suspicion,  I  started 
to  "  do  "  technology,  A  few  natives  were  engaged  in  manu- 
facturing some  object  or  other.  It  was  easy  to  look  at  it  and 
obtain  the  names  of  the  tools,  and  even  some  technical  expres- 
sions about  the  proceedings,  but  there  the  matter  ended.  It 
must  be  borne  in  mind  that  pidgin-English  is  a  very  imperfect 
instrument  for  expressing  one's  ideas,  and  that  before  one  gets 
a  good  training  in  framing  questions  and  understanding  answers 
one  has  the  uncomfortable  feeling  that  free  communication  in 
it  with  the  natives  will  never  be  attained  ;  and  I  was  quite 
unable  to  enter  into  any  more  detailed  or  explicit  conversation 
with  them  at  first.  I  knew  well  that  the  best  remedy  for  this 
was  to  collect  concrete  data,  and  accordingly  I  took  a  village 
census,  wrote  down  genealogies,  drew  up  plans  and  collected 
the  terms  of  kinship.  But  all  this  remained  dead  material, 
which  led  no  further  into  the  understanding  of  real  native 
mentality  or  behaviour,  since  I  could  neither  procure  a 
good  native  interpretation  of  any  of  these  items,  nor  get 
what  could  be  called  the  hang  of  tribal  life.  As  to  obtaining 
their  ideas  about  religion,  and  magic,  their  beliefs  in  sorcery 
and  spirits,  nothing  was  forthcoming  except  a  few  superficial 
items  of  folk-lore,  mangled  by  being  forced  into  pidgin  English. 

Information  which  I  received  from  some  white  residents  in 
the  district,  valuable  as  it  was  in  itself,  was  more  discouraging 
than  anything  else  with  regard  to  my  own  work.  Here  were 
men  who  had  lived  for  years  in  the  place  with  constant  oppor- 
tunities of  observing  the  natives  and  communicating  with  them, 
and  who  yet  hardly  knew  one  thing  about  them  really  well. 
How  could  I  therefore  in  a  few  months  or  a  year,  hope  to  over- 
take and  go  beyond  them  ?  Moreover,  the  manner  in  which  my 
white  informants  spoke  about  the  natives  and  put  their  views 
was,  naturally,  that  of  untrained  minds,  unaccustomed  to 
formulate  their  thoughts  with  any  degree  of  consistency  and 
precision.  And  they  were  for  the  most  part,  naturally  enough, 
full  of  the  biassed  and  pre-judged  opinions  inevitable  in  the 
average  practical  man,  whether  administrator,  missionary,  or 
trader  ;  yet  so  strongly  repulsive  to  a  mind  striving  after  the 


6  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

objective,  scientific  view  of  things.  The  habit  of  treating  with 
a  self-satisfied  frivolity  what  is  really  serious  to  the  ethno- 
grapher ;  the  cheap  rating  of  what  to  him  is  a  scientific  treasure, 
that  is  to  say,  the  native's  cultural  and  mental  peculiarities  and 
independence — these  features,  so  well  known  in  the  inferior 
amateur's  writing,  I  found  in  the  tone  of  the  majority  of  white 
residents.* 

Indeed,  in  my  first  piece  of  Ethnographic  research  on  the 
South  coast,  it  was  not  until  I  was  alone  in  the  district  that  I 
began  to  make  some  headway  ;  and,  at  any  rate,  I  found  out 
where  lay  the  secret  of  effective  field-work.  What  is  then  this 
ethnographer's  magic,  by  which  he  is  able  to  evoke  the  real 
spirit  of  the  natives,  the  true  picture  of  tribal  life  ?  As  usual, 
success  can  only  be  obtained  by  a  patient  and  systematic 
Application  of  a  number  of  rules  of  common  sense  and  well- 
known  scientific  principles,  and  not  by  the  discovery  of  any 
marvellous  short-cut  leading  to  the  desired  results  without 
effort  or  trouble.  The  principles  of  method  can  be  grouped 
under  three  main  headings  ;  first  of  all,  naturally,  the  student 
must  possess  real  scientific  aims,  and  know  the  values  and 
criteria  of  modern  ethnography.  Secondly,  he  ought  to  put 
himself  in  good  conditions  of  work,  that  is,  in  the  main,  to  live 
without  other  white  men,  right  among  the  natives.  Finally, 
he  has  to  apply  a  number  of  special  methods  of  collecting, 
manipulating  and  fixing  his  evidence.  A  few  words  must  be 
said  about  these  three  foundation  stones  of  field  work,  beginning 
with  the  second  as  the  most  elementary. 

IV 

Proper  conditions  for  ethnographic  work.  These,  as  said, 
consist  mainly  in  cutting  oneself  off  from  the  company  of  other 
white  men,  and  remaining  in  as  close  contact  with  the  natives 
as  possible,  which  really  can  only  be  achieved  by  camping  right 
in  their  villages  (see  Plates  I  and  II).  It  is  very  nice  to  have 
a  base  in  a  white  man's  compound  for  the  stores,  and  to  know 
there  is  a  refuge  there  in  times  of  sickness  and  surfeit  of  native. 
But  it  must  be  far  enough  away  not  to  become  a  permanent 
milieu  in  which  you  live  and  from  which  you  emerge  at  fixed 

*  I  may  note  at  once  that  there  were  a  few  delightful  exceptions  to  that, 
to  mention  only  my  friends  Billy  Hancock  in  the  Trobriands  ;  M.  Raffael 
Brudo,  another  pearl  trader ;  and  the  missionary,  Mr.  M.  K.  Gilmour. 


PLATE  I 


Till-    HTHNOOR  API  mil'S  THNT  ON   THH   UfiAOl   Ob'  NU'AC.ASi 
This  illustrates  the  manner  of  life  among  the  natives,  described  in  l)iv.  IV,     Note  (with 
•cfererice  to  <ihs.  IV  and  \')  the  dug-out  log  of  a  large  canoe  beside  the  tent,  and  the 
canoe,  beached  under  palm  leaves  to  the  left 


THE  CHIEFS  LISIGA  (PERSONAL  HUT)   IN  OMARAKANA 
To'uluwa,  the  present  chief,  is  in  front  (cf,  Oi,  If,  Div.  V) ;  to  the  left,  the- 

is  the  Ethnographer's  tent  (see  Div.  IV),  with  a  group  of  natives  squatting  in  f  root  of  it, 


PLATE  III 


STRFiKT  (>!'   KASANA'J   (IN   KIRIVC'INA,  TROBRIAND   ISUNDS) 

An  everyday  scene,  showing  groups  of  people  at  their  ordinary  occupations.    (See  Oivs  IV 

and  VIJl,) 


PI.ATF  IV 


IN  YOURAWQTO 

A  complex,  but  well-deflncd,  act  of  a  distribution)  is  going  on,    There  is  a 

definite  of  sociological,  economic  and  ceremonial  at  the  of  the 

apparently  confused  proceedings.  Divs.  IV  and  V.) 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  7 

hours  only  to  "  do  the  village/'  It  should  not  even  be  near 
enough  to  fly  to  at  any  moment  for  recreation.  For  the  native 
is  not  the  natural  companion  for  a  white  man,  and  after  you 
have  been  working  with  him  for  several  hours,  seeing  how  he 
does  his  garden's,  or  letting  him  tell  you  items  of  folk-lore, 
or  discussing  his  customs,  you  will  naturally  hanker  after  the 
company  of  your  own  kind.  But  if  you  are  alone  in  a  village 
beyond  reach  of  this,  you  go  for  a  solitary  walk  for  an  hour  or 
so,  return  again  and  then  quite  naturally  seek  out  the  natives' 
society,  this  time  as  a  relief  from  loneliness,  just  as  you  would 
any  other  companionship.  And  by  means  of  this  natural 
intercourse,  you  learn  to  know  him,  and  you  become  familiar 
with  his  customs  and  beliefs  far  better  than  when  he  is  a  paid, 
and  often  bored,  informant. 

There  is  all  the  difference  between  a  sporadic  plunging  into 
the  company  of  natives,  and  being  really  in  contact  with  them. 
What  does  this  latter  mean  ?  On  the  Ethnographer's  side,  it 
means  that  his  life  in  the  village,  which  at  first  is  a  strange, 
sometimes  unpleasant,  sometimes  intensely  interesting 
adventure,  soon  adopts  quite  a  natural  course  very  much  in 
harmony  with  his  surroundings. 

Soon  after  I  had  established  myself  in  Omarakana  (Tro- 
briand  Islands),  I  began  to  take  part,  in  a  way,  in  the  village 
life,  to  look  forward  to  the  important  or  festive  events,  to 
take  personal  interest  in  the  gossip  and  the  developments  of  the 
small  village  occurrences  ;  to  wake  up  every  morning  to  a  day, 
presenting  itself  to  me  more  or  less  as  it  does  to  the  native.  I 
would  get  out  from  under  my  mosquito  net,  to  find  around  me 
the  village  life  beginning  to  stir,  or  the  people  well  advanced  in 
their  working  day  according*to  the  hour  and  also  to  the  season, 
for  they  get  up  and  begin  their  labours  early  or  late,  as  work 
presses.  As  I  went  on  my  morning  walk  through  the  village,  I 
could  see  intimate  details  of  family  life,  of  toilet,  cooking, 
taking  of  meals ;  I  could  see  the  arrangements  for  the  day's 
work,  people  starting  on  their  errands,  or  groups  of  men  and 
women  busy  at  some  manufacturing  tasks  (see  Plate  III). 
Quarrels,  jokes,  family  scenes,  events  usually  trivial,  some- 
times dramatic  but  always  significant,  formed  the  atmosphere 
of  my  daily  life,  as  well  as  of  theirs.  It  must  be  remembered 
that  as  the  natives  saw  me  constantly  every  day,  they  ceased  to 
be  interested  or  alarmed,  or  made  self-conscious  by  my 


8  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

presence,  and  I  ceased  to  be  a  disturbing  element  in  the  tribal 
life  which  I  was  to  study,  altering  it  by  my  very  approach,  as 
always  happens  with  a  new-comer  to  every  savage  community. 
In  fact,  as  they  knew  that  I  would  thrust  my  nose  into  every- 
thing, even  where  a  well-mannered  native  would  not  dream  of 
intruding,  they  finished  by  regarding  me  as  part  and  parcel  of 
their  life,  a  necessary  evil  or  nuisance,  mitigated  by^donations 
of  tobacco. 

Later  on  in  the  day,  whatever  happened  was  within  easy 
reach,  and  there  was  no  possibility  of  its  escaping  my  notice. 
Alarms  about  the  sorcerer's  approach  in  the  evening,  one  or  two 
big,  really  important  quarrels  and  rifts  within  the  community, 
cases  of  illness,  attempted  cures  and  deaths,  magical  rites 
which  had  to  be  performed,  all  these  I  had  not  to  pursue,  fearful 
of  missing  them,  but  they  took  place  under  my  very  eyes,  at 
my  own  doorstep,  so  to  speak  (see  Plate  IV).  And  it  must  be 
emphasised  whenever  anything  dramatic  or  important  occurs  it 
is  essential  to  investigate  it  at  the  very  moment  of  happen- 
ing, because  the  natives  cannot  but  talk  about  it,  are  too 
excited  to  be  reticent,  and  too  interested  to  be  mentally  lazy 
in  supplying  details.  Also,  over  and  over  again,  I  committed 
breaches  of  etiquette,  which  the  natives,  familiar  enough  with 
me,  were  not  slow  in  pointing  out.  I  had  to  learn  how  to 
behave,  and  to  a  certain  extent,  I  acquired  "  the  feeling  "  for 
native  good  and  bad  manners.  With  this,  and  with  the 
capacity  of  enjoying  their  company  and  sharing  some  of  their 
games  and  amusements,  I  began  to  feel  that  I  was  indeed  in 
touch  with  the  natives,  and  this  is  certainly  the  preliminary 
condition  of  being  able  to  carry  on  successful  field  work. 

V 

But  the  Ethnographer  has  not  only  to  spread  his  nets  in 
the  right  place,  and  wait  for  what  will  fall  into  them.  He  must 
be  an  active  huntsman,  and  drive  his  quarry  into  them  and 
follow  it  up  to  its  most  inaccessible  lairs.  And  that  leads  us 
to  the  more  active  methods  of  pursuing  ethnographic  evidence. 
It  has  been  mentioned  at  the  end  of  Division  III  that  the 
Ethnographer  has  to  be  inspired  by  the  knowledge  of  the  most 
modern  results  of  scientific  study,  by  its  principles  and  aims. 
I  shall  not  enlarge  upon  this  subject,  except  by  way  of  one 
remark,  to  avoid  the  possibility  of  misunderstanding.  Good 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  9 

training  in  theory,  and  acquaintance  with  its  latest  results,  is 
not  identical  with  being  burdened  with  "  preconceived  ideas." 
If  a  man  sets  out  on  an  expedition,  determined  to  prove  certain 
hypotheses,  if  he  is  incapable  of  changing  his  views  constantly 
and  casting  them  off  ungrudgingly  under  the  pressure  of 
evidence,  needless  to  say  his  work  will  be  worthless.  But  the 
more  problems  he  brings  with  him  into  the  field,  the  more  he  is 
in  the  habit  of  moulding  his  theories  according  to  facts,  and  of 
seeing  facts  in  their  bearing  upon  theory,  the  better  he  is 
equipped  for  the  work.  Preconceived  ideas  are  pernicious 
in  any  scientific  work,  but  foreshadowed  problems  are  the  main 
endowment  of  a  scientific  thinker,  and  these  problems  are  first 
revealed  to  the  observer  by  his  theoretical  studies. 

In  Ethnology  the  early  efforts  of  Bastian,  Tylor,  Morgan, 
the  German  Volkerpsychologen  have  remoulded  the  older 
crude  information  of  travellers,  missionaries,  etc.,  and  have 
shown  us  the  importance  of  applying  deeper  conceptions  and 
discarding  crude  and  misleading  ones.* 

The  concept  of  animism  superseded  that  of  "  fetichism  "  or 
"devil-worship,"  both  meaningless  terms.  The  understanding 
of  the  classificatory  systems  of  relationship  paved  the  way  for 
the  brilliant,  modern  researches  on  native  sociology  in  the 
field-work  of  the  Cambridge  school.  The  psychological 
analysis  of  the  German  thinkers  has  brought  forth  an  abundant 
crop  of  most  valuable  information  in  the  results  obtained  by 
the  recent  German  expeditions  to  Africa,  South  America  and 
the  Pacific,  while  the  theoretical  works  ol  Frazer,  Durkheim 
and  others  have  already,  and  will  no  doubt  still  for  a  long  time 
inspire  field  workers  and  lead  them  to  new  results.  The  field 
worker  relies  entirely  upon  inspiration  from  theory.  Of  course 
he  may  be  also  a  theoretical  thinker  and  worker,  and  there  he 
can  draw  on  himself  for  stimulus.  But  the  two  functions  are 
separate,  and  in  actual  research  they  have  to  be  separated 
both  in  time  and  conditions  of  work. 

As  always  happens  when  scientific  interest  turns  towards 
and  begins  to  labour  on  a  field  so  far  only  prospected  by  the 
curiosity  of  amateurs,  Ethnology  has  introduced  law  and  order 
into  what  seemed  chaotic  and  freakish.  It  has  transformed 
for  us  the  sensational,  wild  and  unaccountable  world  of 

*  According  to  a  useful  habit  of  the  terminology  of  science,  I  use  the 
word  Ethnography  for  the  empirical  and  descriptive  results  of  the  •  cience 
of  Man,  and  the  word  Ethnology  for  speculative  and  comparative  theories. 


io  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

"  savages "  into  a  number  of  well  ordered  communities, 
governed  by  law,  behaving  and  thinking  according  to  consistent 
principles.  The  word  "  savage,"  whatever  association  it  might 
have  had  originally,  connotes  ideas  of  boundless  liberty,  of 
irregularity,  of  something  extremely  and  extraordinarily  quaint. 
In  popular  thinking,  we  imagine  that  the  natives  live  on  the 
bosom  of  Nature,  more  or  less  as  they  can  and  like,  the  prey  of 
irregular,  phantasmagoric  beliefs  and  apprehensions.  Modern 
science,  on  the  contrary,  shows  that  their  social  institutions  have 
a  very  definite  organisation,  that  they  are  governed  by  author- 
ity, law  and  order  in  their  public  and  personal  relations,  while 
the  latter  are,  besides,  under  the  control  of  extremely  complex 
ties  of  kinship  and  clanship.  Indeed,  we  see  them  entangled 
in  a  mesh  of  duties,  functions  and  privileges  which  correspond 
to  an  elaborate  tribal,  communal  and  kinship  organisation 
(see  Plate  IV).  Their  beliefs  and  practices  do  not  by  any 
means  lack  consistency  of  a  certain  type,  and  their  knowledge 
of  the  outer  world  is  sufficient  to  guide  them  in  many  of  their 
strenuous  enterprises  and  activities.  Their  artistic  pro- 
ductions again  lack  neither  meaning  nor  beauty. 

It  is  a  very  far  cry  from  the  famous  answer  given  long  ago 
by  a  representative  authority  who,  asked,  what  are  the  manners 
and  customs  of  the  natives,  answered,  "  Customs  none,  manners 
beastly/'  to  the  position  of  the  modern  Ethnographer .  This 
latter,  with  his  tables  of  kinship  terms,  genealogies,  maps, 
plans  and  diagrams,  proves  an  extensive  and  big  organisation, 
shows  the  constitution  of  the  tribe,  of  the  clan,  of  the  family  ; 
and  he  gives  us  a  picture  of  the  natives  subjected  to  a  strict 
code  of  behaviour  and  good  manners,  to  which  in  comparison 
the  life  at  the  Court  of  Versailles  or  Escurial  was  free  and  easy.* 

Thus  the  first  and  basic  ideal  of  ethnographic  field-work  is 
to  give  a  clear  and  firm  outline  of  the  social  constitution,  and 
disentangle  the  laws  and  regularities  of  all  cultural  phenomena 

*  The  legendary  "  early  authority  "  who  found  the  natives  only  beastly 
and  without  customs  is  left  behind  by  a  modem  writer,  who,  speaking  about 
the  Southern  Massim  with  whom  he  lived  and  worked  **  in  close  contact  *'  for 
many  years,  says  • — ** .  .  .  We  teach  lawless  men  to  become  obedient, 
inhuman  men  to  love,  and  savage  men  to  change."  And  again : — "  Guided 
in  his  conduct  by  nothing  but  his  instincts  and  propensities,  and  governed  by 
his  unchecked  passions.  .  .  ."  "  Lawless,  inhuman  and  savage  f "  A 
grosser  misstatement  of  the  real  state  of  things  could  not  be  invented  by  anyone 
wishing  to  parody  the  Missionary  point  of  view.  Quoted  from  the  Rev.  C.  W. 
Abel,  of  the  London  Missionary  Society,  "  Savage  Life  in  New  Guinea,"  no 
date. 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  n 

from  the  irrelevances.  The  firm  skeleton  of  the  tribal  life  has 
to  be  first  ascertained.  This  ideal  imposes  in  the  first  place 
the  fundamental  obligation  of  giving  a  complete  survey  of  the 
phenomena,  and  not  of  picking  out  the  sensational,  the  singular, 
still  less  the  funny  and  quaint.  The  time  when  we  could 
tolerate  accounts  presenting  us  the  native  as  a  distorted,  childish 
caricature  of  a  human  being  are  gone.  This  picture  is  false> 
and  like  many  other  falsehoods,  it  has  been  killed  by  Science. 
The  field  Ethnographer  has  seriously  and  soberly  to  cover  the 
full  extent  of  the  phenomena  in  each  aspect  of  tribal  culture 
studied,  making  no  difference  between  what  is  commonplace, 
or  drab,  or  ordinary,  and  what  strikes  him  as  astonishing  and 
out-of-the-way.  At  the  same  time,  the  whole  area  of  tribal 
culture  in  all  its  aspects  has  to  be  gone  over  in  research.  The 
consistency,  the  law  and  order  which  obtain  within  each 
aspect  make  also  for  joining  them  into  one  coherent  whole. 

An  Ethnographer  who  sets  out  to  study  only  religion,  or 
only  technology,  or  only  social  organisation  cuts  out  an 
artificial  field  for  inquiry,  and  he  will  be  seriously  handicapped 
in  his  work. 

VI 

Having  settled  this  very  general  rule,  let  us  descend  to 
more  detailed  consideration  of  method.  The  Ethnographer 
has  in  the  field,  according  to  what  has  just  been  said,  the  duty 
before  him  of  drawing  up  all  the  rules  and  regularities  of  tribal 
life  ;  all  that  is  permanent  and  fixed  ;  of  giving  an  anatomy 
of  their  culture,  of  depicting  the  constitution  of  their  society. 
But  these  things,  though  crystallised  and  set,  are  nowhere 
formulated.  There  is  no  written  or  explicitly  expressed  code 
of  laws,  and  their  whole  tribal  tradition,  the  whole  structure  of 
their  society,  are  embodied  in  the  most  elusive  of  all  materials ; 
the  human  being.  But  not  even  in  human  mind  or  memory 
are  these  laws  to  be  found  definitely  formulated.  The  natives 
obey  the  forces  and  commands  of  the  tribal  code,  but  they 
do  not  comprehend  them  ;  exactly  as  they  obey  their  instincts 
and  their  impulses,  but  could  not  lay  down  a  single  law  of 
psychology.  The  regularities  in  native  institutions  are  an 
automatic  result  of  the  interaction  of  the  mental  forces  of 
tradition,  and  of  the  material  conditions  of  environment. 
Exactly  as  a  humble  member  of  any  modern  institution, 


12  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

whether  it  be  the  state,  or  the  church,  or  the  army,  is  of  it  and 
in  it,  but  has  no  vision  of  the  resulting  integral  action  of  the 
whole,  still  less  could  furnish  any  account  of  its  organisation, 
so  it  would  be  futile  to  attempt  questioning  a  native  in  abstract, 
sociological  terms.  The  difference  is  that,  in  our  society, 
every  institution  has  its  intelligent  members,  its  historians, 
and  its  archives  and  documents,  whereas  in  a  native  society 
there  are  none  of  these.  After  this  is  realised  an  expedient  has 
to  be  found  to  overcome  this  difficulty.  This  expedient  for  an 
Ethnographer  consists  in  collecting  concrete  data  of  evidence, 
and  drawing  the  general  inferences  for  himself.  This  seems 
obvious  on  the  face  of  it,  but  was  not  found  out  or  at  least 
practised  in  Ethnography  till  field  work  was  taken  up  by  men 
of  science.  Moreover,  in  giving  it  practical  effect,  it  is  neither 
easy  to  devise  the  concrete  applications  of  this  method,  nor  to 
carry  them  out  systematically  and  consistently. 

Though  we  cannot  ask  a  native  about  abstract,  general  rules, 
we  can  always  enquire  how  a  given  case  would  be  treated. 
Thus  for  instance,  in  asking  how  they  would  treat  crime, 
or  punish  it,  it  would  be  vain  to  put  to  a  native  a  sweeping 
question  such  as,  "  How  do  you  treat  and  punish  a  criminal  ?  " 
for  even  words  could  not  be  found  to  express  it  in  native,  or 
in  pidgin.  But  an  imaginary  case,  or  still  better,  a  real 
occurrence,  will  stimulate  a  native  to  express  his  opinion  and  to 
supply  plentiful  information.  A  real  case  indeed  will  start  the 
natives  on  a  wave  of  discussion,  evoke  expressions  of  indigna- 
tion, show  them  taking  sides — all  of  which  talk  will  probably 
contain  a  wealth  of  definite  views,  of  moral  censures,  as  well 
as  reveal  the  social  mechanism  set  in  motion  by  the  crime 
committed.  From  there,  it  will  be  easy  to  lead  them  on  to 
speak  of  other  similar  cases,  to  remember  other  actual  occur- 
rences or  to  discuss  them  in  all  their  implications  and  aspects. 
From  this  material,  which  ought  to  cover  the  widest  possible 
range  of  facts,  the  inference  is  obtained  by  simple  induction. 
The  scientific  treatment  differs  from  that  of  good  common  sense, 
first  in  that  a  student  will  extend  the  completeness  and 
minuteness  of  survey  much  further  and  in  a  pedantically 
systematic  and  methodical  manner  ;  and  secondly,  in  that  the 
scientifically  trained  mind,  will  push  the  inquiry  along  really 
relevant  lines,  and  towards  aims  possessing  real  importance. 
Indeed,  the  object  of  scientific  training  is  to  provide  the 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  13 

empirical  investigator  with  a  mental  chart,  in  accordance  with 
which  he  can  take  his  bearings  and  lay  his  course. 

To  return  to  our  example,  a  number  of  definite  cases 
discussed  will  reveal  to  the  Ethnographer  the  social  machinery 
for  punishment.  This  is  one  part,  one  aspect  of  tribal 
authority.  Imagine  further  that  by  a  similar  method  of 
inference  from  definite  data,  he  arrives  at  understanding  leader- 
ship in  war,  in  economic  enterprise,  in  tribal  festivities — there 
he  has  at  once  all  the  data  necessary  to  answer  the  questions 
about  tribal  government  and  social  authority.  In  actual 
field  work,  the  comparison  of  such  data,  the  attempt  to  piece 
them  together,  will 'often  reveal  rifts  and  gaps  in  the  infor- 
mation which  lead  on  to  further  investigations. 

From  my  own  experience,  I  can  say  that,  very  often,  a 
problem  seemed  settled,  everything  fixed  and  clear,  till  I  began 
to  write  down  a  short  preliminary  sketch  of  my  results.  And 
only  then,  did  I  see  the  enormous  deficiencies,  which  would 
show  me  where  lay  new  problems,  and  lead  me  on  to  new  work. 
In  fact,  I  spent  a  few  months  between  my  first  and  second 
expeditions,  and  over  a  year  between  that  and  the  subsequent 
one,  in  going  over  all  my  material,  and  making  parts  of  it  almost 
ready  for  publication  each  time,  though  each  time  I  knew  I 
would  have  to  re-write  it.  Such  cross-fertilisation  of  con- 
structive work  and  observation,  I  found  most  valuable,  and  I 
do  not  think  I  could  have  made  real  headway  without  it.  I  give 
this  bit  of  my  own  history  merely  to  show  that  what  has  been 
said  so  far  is  not  only  an  empty  programme,  but  the  result  of 
personal  experience.  In  this  volume,  the  description  is  given  of 
a  big  institution  connected  with  ever  so  many  associated 
activities,  and  presenting  many  aspects.  To  anyone  who 
reflects  on  the  subject,  it  will  be  clear  that  the  information 
about  a  phenomenon  of  such  high  complexity  and  of  so  many 
ramifications,  could  not  be  obtained  with  any  degree  of 
exactitude  and  completeness,  without  a  constant  interplay  of 
constructive  attempts  and  empirical  checking.  In  fact,  I  have 
written  up  an  outline  of  the  Kula  institution  at  least  half  a 
dozen  times  while  in  the  field  and  in  the  intervals  between  my 
expeditions.  Each  time,  new  problems  and  difficulties 
presented  themselves. 

The  collecting  of  concrete  data  over  a  wide  range  of  facts  is 
thus  one  of  the  main  points  of  field  method.  The  obligation 


14  .SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

is  not  to  enumerate  a  few  examples  only,  but  to  exhaust  as  far 
as  possible  all  the  cases  within  reach  ;  and,  on  this  search  for 
cases,  the  investigator  will  score  most  whose  mental  chart  is 
clearest.  But,  whenever  the  material  of  the  search  allows  it, 
this  mental  chart  ought  to  be  transformed  into  a  real  one  ; 
it  ought  to  materialise  into  a  diagram,  a  plan,  an  exhaustive, 
synoptic  table  of  cases.  Long  since,  in  all  tolerably  good 
modern  books  on  natives,  we  expect  to  find  a  full  list  or  table  of 
kinship  terms,  which  includes  all  the  data  relative  to  it,  and 
does  not  just  pick  out  a  few  strange  and  anomalous  relation- 
ships or  expressions.  In  the  investigation  of  kinship,  the 
following  up  of  one  relation  after  another  in  concrete  cases 
leads  naturally  to  the  construction  of  genealogical  tables. 
Practised  already  by  the  best  early  writers,  such  as  Munzinger, 
and,  if  I  remember  rightly,  Kubary,  this  method  has  been 
developed  to  its  fullest  extent  in  the  works  of  Dr.  Rivers. 
Again,  studying  the  concrete  data  of  economic  transactions, 
in  order  to  trace  the  history  of  a  valuable  object,  and  to  gauge 
the  nature  of  its  circulation,  the  principle  of  completeness  and 
thoroughness  would  lead  to  construct  tables  of  transactions, 
such  as  we  find  in  the  work  of  Professor  Seligman.*  It  is  in 
following  Professor  Seligman's  example  in  this  matter  that  I 
was  able  to  settle  certain  of  the  more  difficult  and  detailed 
rules  of  the  Kula.  The  method  of  reducing  information,  if 
possible,  into  charts  or  synoptic  tables  ought  to  be  extended  to 
the  study  of  practically  all  aspects  of  native  life.  All  types  of 
economic  transactions  may  be  studied  by  following  up  con- 
nected, actual  cases,  and  putting  them  into  a  synoptic  chart  ; 
again,  a  table  ought  to  be  drawn  up  of  all  the  gifts  and  presents 
customary  in  a  given  society  ,  a  table  including  the  sociological, 
ceremonial,  and  economic  definition  of  every  item.  Also,  systems 
of  magic,  connected  series  of  ceremonies,  types  of  legal  acts,  all 
could  be  charted,  allowing  each  entry  to  be  synoptically  defined 
under  a  number  of  headings.  Besides  this,  of  course,  the 
genealogical  census  of  every  community,  studied  more  in  detail, 
extensive  maps,  plans  and  diagrams,  illustrating  ownership  in 
garden  land,  hunting  and  fishing  privileges,  etc.,  serve  as  the 
more  fundamental  documents  of  ethnographic  research. 

A  genealogy  is  nothing  else  but  a  synoptic  chart  of  a  number 

*  For  instance,  the  tables  of  circulation  of  the  valuable  axe  blades,  op. 
<*t.,  pp.  531,  532. 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  15 

of  connected  relations  of  kinship.  Its  value  as  an  instrument 
of  research  consists  in  that  it  allows  the  investigator  to  put 
questions  which  he  formulates  to  himself  in  abstraclo,  but  can 
put  concretely  to  the  native  informant.  As  a  document,  its 
value  consists  in  that  it  gives  a  number  of  authenticated  data, 
presented  in  their  natural  grouping.  A  synoptic  chart  of 
magic  fulfils  the  same  function.  As  an  instrument  of  research, 
I  have  used  it  in  order  to  ascertain,  for  instance,  the  ideas  about 
the  nature  of  magical  power.  With  a  chart  before  me,  I  could 
easily  and  conveniently  go  over  one  item  after  the  other,  and 
note  down  the  relevant  practices  and  beliefs  contained  in  each 
of  them.  The  answer  to  my  abstract  problem  could  then  be 
obtained  by  drawing  a  general  inference  from  all  the  cases, 
and  the  procedure  is  illustrated  in  Chapters  XVII  and  XVIII.* 
I  cannot  enter  further  into  the  discussion  of  this  question, 
which  would  need  further  distinctions,  such  as  between  a  chart 
of  concrete,  actual  data,  such  as  is  a  genealogy,  and  a  chart 
summarising  the  outlines  of  a  custom  or  belief,  as  a  chart  of  a 
magical  system  would  be. 

Returning  once  more  to  the  question  of  methodological 
candour,  discussed  previously  in  Division  1 1, 1  wish  to  point 
out  here,  that  the  procedure  of  concrete  and  tabularised 
presentation  of  data  ought  to  be  applied  first  to  the  Ethno- 
grapher's own  credentials.  That  is,  an  Ethnographer,  who 
wishes  to  be  trusted,  must  show  clearly  and  concisely,  in  a 
tabularised  form,  which  are  his  own  direct  observations,  and 
which  the  indirect  information  that  form  the  bases  of  his 
account.  The  Table  on  the  next  page  will  serve  as  an  example 
of  this  procedure  and  help  the  reader  of  this  book  to  form  an 
idea  of  the  trustworthiness  of  any  statement  he  is  specially 
anxious  to  check.  With  the  help  of  this  Table  and  the  many 
references  scattered  throughout  the  text,  as  to  how,  under 
what  circumstances,  and  with  what  degree  of  accuracy  I  arrived 
at  a  given  item  of  knowledge,  there  will,  I  hope  remain  no 
obscurity  whatever  as  to  the  sources  of  the  book. 

*  In  this  book,  besides  the  adjoining  Table,  which  does  not  strictly  belong 
to  the  class  of  document  of  which  I  speak  here,  the  reader  will  find  only  a  few 
samples  of  synoptic  tables,  such  as  the  list  of  Kula  partners  mentioned  and 
analysed  in  Chapter  XIII,  Division  II,  the  list  of  gifts  and  presents  in  Chapter 
VI,  Division  VI,  not  tabularised,  only  described  ;  the  synoptic  data  of  a  Kula 
expedition  in  Chapter  XVI,  and  the  table  of  Kula  magic  given  in  Chapter  XV II. 
Here,  I  have  not  wanted  to  overload  the  account  with  charts,  etc.,  preferring  to 
reserve  them  till  the  full  publication  of  my  material. 


16  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

CHRONOLOGICAL    LIST    OF    KULA    EVENTS    WITNESSED 
BY  THE  WRITER 

FIRST  EXPEDITION,  August,  1914 — March,  1915. 

March,  1915.  In  the  village  of  Dikoyas  (Woodlark  Island)  a 
few  ceremonial  offerings  seen.  Preliminary  information 
obtained. 

SECOND  EXPEDITION,  May,  1915 — May,  1916. 

June,  1915.  A  Kabigidoya  visit  arrives  from  Vakuta  to 
Kiriwina.  Its  anchoring  at  Kavataria  witnessed  and  the 
men  seen  at  Omarakana,  where  information  collected. 

July,  1915.  Several  parties  from  Kitava  land  on  the  beach  of 
Kaulukuba.  The  men  examined  in  Omarakana.  Much 
information  collected  in  that  period. 

September,  1915.  Unsuccessful  attempt  to  sail  to  Kitava  with 
To'uluwa,  the  chief  of  Omarakana. 

October-November,  1915.  Departure  noticed  of  three  expeditions 
from  Kiriwina  to  Kitava.  Each  time  To'uluwa  brings  home 
a  haul  of  mwali  (armshells). 

November,  1915 — March,  1916.  Preparations  for  a  big  overseas 
expedition  from  Kiriwina  to  the  Marshall  Bennett  Islands. 
Construction  of  a  canoe  ;  renovating  of  another  ;  sail  making 
in  Omarakana ;  launching ;  tasasoria  on  the  beach  of 
Kaulukuba.  At  the  same  time,  information  is  being 
obtained  about  these  and  the  associated  subjects.  Some 
magical  texts  of  canoe  building  and  Kula  magic  obtained. 

THIRD  EXPEDITION,  October,  1917— October,  1918. 

November,   1917 — December,   1917.     Inland   Kula ;    some  data 

obtained  in  Tukwaukwa. 
December — February,    1918.    Parties    from    Kitava    arrive    in 

Wawela.    Collection   of  information    about    the   yoyova. 

Magic  and  spells  of  Kaygau  obtained. 
March,  1918.    Preparations  in  Sanaroa;    preparations  in  the 

Amphletts  ;    the  Dobuan  fleet  arrives  in  the  Amphletts. 

The  uvalaku  expedition  from  Dobu  followed  to  Boyowa. 
April,  1918.    Their  arrival ;    their  reception  in  Sinaketa ;   the 

Kula  transactions  ;    the  big  intertribal  gathering.    Some 

magical  formulae  obtained. 
May,  1918.    Party  from  Kitava  seen  in  Vakuta, 
June,  July,  1918.    Information  about  Kula  magic  and  customs 

checked  and  amplified  in  Omarakana,  especially  with  regard 

to  its  Eastern  branches. 

August,  September,  1918.    Magical  texts  obtained  in  Sinaketa. 
October,  1918.    Information  obtained  from  a  number  of  natives 

in   Dobu    and   Southern   Massim    district    (examined    in 

Samarai). 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  17 

To  summarise  the  first,  cardinal  point  of  method,  I  may 
say  each  phenomenon  ought  to  be  studied  through  the  broadest 
range  possible  of  its  concrete  manifestations  ;  each  studied  by 
an  exhaustive  survey  of  detailed  examples.  If  possible,  the 
results  ought  to  be  embodied  into  some  sort  of  synoptic  chart, 
both  to  be  used  as  an  instrument  of  study,  and  to  be  presented 
as  an  ethnological  document.  With  the  help  of  such  documents 
and  such  study  of  actualities  the  clear  outline  of  the  frame- 
work of  the  natives'  culture  in  the  widest  sense  of  the  word, 
and  the  constitution  of  their  society,  can  be  presented.  This 
method  could  be  called  the  method  of  statistic  documentation  by 
concrete  evidence. 

VII 

Needless  to  add,  in  this  respect,  the  scientific  field-work 
is  far  above  even  the  best  amateur  productions.  There  is, 
however,  one  point  in  which  the  latter  often  excel.  This  is, 
in  the  presentation  of  intimate  touches  of  native  life,  in  bringing 
home  to  us  these  aspects  of  it  with  which  one  is  made  familiar 
only  through  being  in  close  contact  with  the  natives,  one  way 
or  the  other,  for  a  long  period  of  time.  In  certain  results  of 
scientific  work — especially  that  which  has  been  called  "  survey 
work  " — we  are  given  an  excellent  skeleton,  so  to  speak,  of  the 
tribal  constitution,  but  it  lacks  flesh  and  blood.  We  learn 
much  about  the  framework  of  their  society,  but  within  it,  we 
cannot  perceive  or  imagine  the  realities  of  human  life,  the  even 
flow  of  everyday  events,  the  occasional  ripples  of  excitement 
over  a  feast,  or  ceremony,  or  some  singular  occurrence.  In 
working  out  the  rules  and  regularities  of  native  custom,  and  in 
obtaining  a  precise  formula  for  them  from  the  collection  of  data 
and  native  statements,  we  find  that  this  very  precision  is 
foreign  to  real  life,  which  never  adheres  rigidly  to  any  rules.  It 
must  be  supplemented  by  the  observation  of  the  manner  in 
which  a  given  custom  is  carried  out,  of  the  behaviour  of  the 
natives  in  obeying  the  rules  so  exactly  formulated  by  the 
ethnographer,  of  the  very  exceptions  which  in  sociological 
phenomena  almost  always  occur. 

If  all  the  conclusions  are  solely  based  on  the  statements  of 
informants,  or  deduced  from  objective  documents,  it  is  of  course 
impossible  to  supplement  them  in  actually  observed  data  of 
real  behaviour.  And  that  is  the  reason  why  certain  works  of 


18  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

amateur  residents  of  long  standing,  such  as  educated  traders 
and  planters,  medical  men  and  officials,  and  last,  not  least,  of 
the  few  intelligent  and  unbiassed  missionaries  to  whom 
Ethnography  owes  so  much,  this  is  the  reason  why  these  works 
surpass  in  plasticity  and  in  vividness  most  of  the  purely 
scientific  accounts.  But  if  the  specialised  field-worker  can 
adopt  the  conditions  of  living  described  above,  he*  is  in  a  far 
better  position  to  be  really  in  touch  with  the  natives  than  any 
other  white  resident.  For  none  of  them  lives  right  in  a  native 
village,  except  for  very  short  periods,  and  everyone  has  his  own 
business,  which  takes  up  a  considerable  part  of  his  time.  More- 
over, if,  like  a  trader  or  a  missionary  or  an  official  he  enters  into 
active  relations  with  the  native,  if  he  has  to  transform  or 
influence  or  make  use  of  him,  this  makes  a  real,  unbiassed, 
impartial  observation  impossible,  and  precludes  all-round 
sincerity,  at  least  in  the  case  of  the  missionaries  and  officials. 

Living  in  the  village  with  no  other  business  but  to  follow 
native  life,  one  sees  the  customs,  ceremonies  and  transactions 
over  and  over  again,  one  has  examples  of  their  beliefs  as  they 
are  actually  lived  through,  and  the  full  body  and  blood  of 
actual  native  life  fills  out  soon  the  skeleton  of  abstract  con- 
structions. That  is  the  reason  why,  working  under  such  con- 
ditions as  previously  described,  the  Ethnographer  is  enabled  to 
add  something  essential  to  the  bare  outline  of  tribal  con- 
stitution, and  to  supplement  it  by  all  the  details  of  behaviour, 
setting  and  small  incident.  He  is  able  in  each  case  to  state 
whether  an  act  is  public  or  private  ;  how  a  public  assembly 
behaves,  and  what  it  looks  like  ;  he  can  judge  whether  an  event 
is  ordinary  or  an  exciting  and  singular  one  ;  whether  natives 
bring  to  it  a  great  deal  of  sincere  and  earnest  spirit,  or  perform 
it  in  fun  ;  whether  they  do  it  in  a  perfunctory  manner,  or  with 
zeal  and  deliberation. 

In  other  words,  there  is  a  series  of  phenomena  of  great 
importance  which  cannot  possibly  be  recorded  by  questioning 
or  computing  documents,  but  have  to  be  observed  in  their 
full  actuality.  Let  us  call  them  the  inponderabilia  of  actual  life. 
Here  belong  such  things  as  the  routine  of  a  man's  working  day, 
the  details  of  his  care  of  the  body,  of  the  manner  of  taking  food 
and  preparing  it ;  the  tone  of  conversational  and  social  life 
around  the  village  fires,  the  existence  of  strong  friendships  or 
hostilities,  and  of  passing  sympathies  and  dislikes  between 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  19 

people  ;  the  subtle  yet  unmistakable  manner  in  which  personal 
vanities  and  ambitions  are  reflected  in  the  behaviour  of  the 
individual  and  in  the  emotional  reactions  of  those  who  surround 
him.  All  these  facts  can  and  ought  to  be  scientifically  forma- 
lated  and  recorded,  but  it  is  necessary  that  this  be  done,  not  by 
a  superficial  registration  of  details,  as  is  usually  done  by 
untrained  observers,  but  with  an  effort  at  penetrating  the 
mental  attitude  expressed  in  them.  And  that  is  the  reason 
why  the  work  of  scientifically  trained  observers,  once  seriously 
applied  to  the  study  of  this  aspect,  will,  I  believe,  yield  results 
of  surpassing  value.  So  far,  it  has  been  done  only  by  amateurs, 
and  therefore  done,  on  the  whole,  indifferently. 

Indeed,  if  we  remember  that  these  imponderable  yet  all 
important  facts  of  actual  life  are  part  of  the  reaPsubstance  of 
the  social  fabric,  that  in  them  are  spun  the  innumerable  threads 
which  keep  together  the  family,  the  clan,  the  village  community, 
the  tribe — their  significance  becomes  clear.  The  more  crystal- 
lised bonds  of  social  grouping,  such  as  the  definite  ritual, 
the  economic  and  legal  duties,  the  obligations,  the  ceremonial 
gifts  and  formal  marks  of  regard,  though  equally  important 
for  the  student,  are  certainly  felt  less  strongly  by  the  individual 
who  has  to  fulfil  them.  Applying  this  to  ourselves,  we  all 
know  that  "  family  life  "  means  for  us,  first  and  foremost,  the 
atmosphere  of  home,  all  the  innumerable  small  acts  and 
attentions  in  which  are  expressed  the  affection,  the  mutual 
interest,  the  little  preferences,  and  the  little  antipathies  which 
constitute  intimacy.  That  we  may  inherit  from  this  person, 
that  we  shall  have  to  walk  after  the  hearse  of  the  other,  though 
sociologically  these  facts  belong  to  the  definition  of  "  family  " 
and  "  family  life,"  in  personal  perspective  of  what  family  truly 
is  to  us,  they  normally  stand  very  much  in  the  background. 

Exactly  the  same  applies  to  a  native  community,  and  if  the 
Ethnographer  wants  to  bring  their  real  life  home  to  his  readers, 
he  must  on  no  account  neglect  this.  Neither  aspect,  the 
intimate,  as  little  as  the  legal,  ought  to  be  glossed  over.  Yet  as 
a  rule  in  ethnographic  accounts  we  have  not  both  but  either 
the  one  or  the  other — and,  so  far,  the  intimate  one  has  hardly 
ever  been  properly  treated.  In  all  social  relations  besides  the 
family  ties,  even  those  between  mere  tribesmen  and,  beyond 
that,  between  hostile  or  friendly  members  of  different  tribes, 
meeting  on  any  sort  of  social  business,  there  is  this  in -inflate 


20  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

side,  expressed  by  the  typical  details  of  intercourse,  the  tone  of 
their  behaviour  in  the  presence  of  one  another.  This  side  is 
different  from  the  definite,  crystalised  legal  frame  of  the 
relationship,  and  it  has  to  be  studied  and  stated  in  its  own 
right. 

In  the  same  way,  in  studying  the  conspicuous  acts  of 
tribal  life,  such  as  ceremonies,  rites,  festivities,  etc./the  details 
and  tone  of  behaviour  ought  to  be  given,  besides  the  bare  out- 
line of  events.  The  importance  of  this  may  be  exemplified  by 
one  instance.  Much  has  been  said  and  written  about  survival. 
Yet  the  survival  character  of  an  act  is  expressed  in  nothing  as 
well  as  in  the  concomitant  behaviour,  in  the  way  in  which 
it  is  carried  out.  Take  any  example  from  our  own  culture, 
whether  it  be  the  pomp  and  pageantry  of  a  state  ceremony,  or  a 
picturesque  custom  kept  up  by  street  urchins,  its  "  outline  " 
will  not  tell  you  whether  the  rite  flourishes  still  with  full  vigour 
in  the  hearts  of  those  who  perform  it  or  assist  at  the  performance 
or  whether  they  regard  it  as  almost  a  dead  thing,  kept  alive  for 
tradition's  sake.  But  observe  and  fix  the  data  of  their 
behaviour,  and  at  once  the  degree  of  vitality  of  the  act  will 
become  clear.  There  is  no  doubt,  from  all  points  of  socio- 
logical, or  psychological  analysis,  and  in  any  question  of  theory, 
the  manner  and  type  of  behaviour  observed  in  the  performance 
of  an  act  is  of  the  highest  importance.  Indeed  behaviour  is 
a  fact,  a  relevant  fact,  and  one  that  can  be  recorded.  And 
foolish  indeed  and  short-sighted  would  be  the  man  of  science 
who  would  pass  by  a  whole  class  of  phenomena,  ready  to  be 
garnered,  and  leave  them  to  waste,  even  though  he  did  not  see 
at  the  moment  to  what  theoretical  use  they  might  be  put ! 

As  to  the  actual  method  of  observing  and  recording  in  field- 
work  these  imponderabilia  of  actual  life  and  of  typical  behaviour, 
there  is  no  doubt  that  the  personal  equation  of  the  observer 
comes  in  here  more  prominently,  than  in  the  collection  of 
crystalised,  ethnographic  data.  But  here  also  the  main 
endeavour  must  be  to  let  facts  speak  for  themselves.  If  in 
making  a  daily  round  of  the  village,  certain  small  incidents, 
characteristic  forms  of  taking  food,  of  conversing,  of  doing 
work  (see  for  instance  Plate  III)  are  found  occuring  over  and 
over  again,  they  should  be  noted  down  at  once.  It  is  also 
important  that  this  work  of  collecting  and  fixing  impressions 
should  begin  early  in  the  course  of  working  out  a  district. 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  21 

Because  certain  subtle  peculiarities,  which  make  an  impression 
as  long  as  they  are  novel,  cease  to  be  noticed  as  soon  as  they 
become  familiar.  Others  again  can  only  be  perceived  with  a 
better  knowledge  of  the  local  conditions.  An  ethnographic 
diary,  carried  on  systematically  throughout  the  course  of  one's 
work  in  a  district  would  be  the  ideal  instrument  for  this  sort 
of  study.  And  if,  side  by  side  with  the  normal  and  typical,  the 
ethnographer  carefully  notes  the  slight,  or  the  more  pronounced 
deviations  from  it,  he  will  be  able  to  indicate  the  two  extremes 
within  which  the  normal  moves. 

In  observing  ceremonies  or  other  tribal  events,  such,  for 
instance  as  the  scene  depicted  in  Plate  IV,  it  is  necessary,  not 
only  to  note  down  those  occurrences  and  details  which  are 
prescribed  by  tradition  and  custom  to  be  the  essential  course 
of  the  act,  but  also  the  Ethnographer  ought  to  record  carefully 
and  precisely,  one  after  the  other,  the  actions  of  the  actors  and 
of  the  spectators.  Forgetting  for  a  moment  that  he  knows  and 
understands  the  structure  of  this  ceremony,  the  main  dogmatic 
ideas  underlying  it,  he  might  try  to  find  himself  only  in  the 
midst  of  an  assembly  of  human  beings,  who  behave  seriously  or 
jocularly,  with  earnest  concentration  or  with  bored  frivolity, 
who  are  either  in  the  same  mood  as  he  finds  them  every  day,  or 
else  are  screwed  up  to  a  high  pitch  of  excitement,  and  so  on 
and  so  on.  With  his  attention  constantly  directed  to  this 
aspect  of  tribal  life,  with  the  constant  endeavour  to  fix  it,  to 
express  it  in  terms  of  actual  fact,  a  good  deal  of  reliable  and 
expressive  material  finds  its  way  into  his  notes.  He  will  be 
able  to  "  set  "  the  act  into  its  proper  place  in  tribal  life,  that  is 
to  show  whether  it  is  exceptional  or  commonplace,  one  in  which 
the  natives  behave  ordinarily,  or  one  in  which  their  whole 
behaviour  is  transformed.  And  he  will  also  be  able  to  bring 
all  this  home  to  his  readers  in  a  clear,  convincing  manner. 

Again,  in  this  type  of  work,  it  is  good  for  the  Ethnographer 
sometimes  to  put  aside  camera,  note  book  and  pencil,  and  to 
join  in  himself  in  what  is  going  on.  He  can  take  part  in  the 
natives'  games,  he  can  follow  them  on  their  visits  and  walks, 
sit  down  and  listen  and  share  in  their  conversations.  I  am 
not  certain  if  this  is  equally  easy  for  everyone — perhaps  the 
Slavonic  nature  is  more  plastic  and  more  naturally  savage  than 
that  of  Western  Europeans — but  though  the  degree  of  success 
varies,  the  attempt  is  possible  for  everyone.  Out  of  such 


22  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

plunges  into  the  life  of  the  natives — and  I  made  them  frequently 
not  only  for  study's  sake  but  because  everyone  needs  human 
company — I  have  carried  away  a  distinct  feeling  that  their 
behaviour,  their  manner  of  being,  in  all  sorts  of  tribal  trans- 
actions, became  more  transparent  and  easily  understandable 
than  it  had  been  before.  All  these  methodological  remarks, 
the  reader  will  find  again  illustrated  in  the  following 
chapters. 

VIII 

Finally,  let  us  pass  to  the  third  and  last  aim  of  scientific 
field-work,  to  the  last  type  of  phenomenon  which  ought  to  be 
recorded  in  order  to  give  a  full  and  adequate  picture  of  native 
culture.  Besides  the  firm  outline  of  tribal  constitution  and 
crystallised  cultural  items  which  form  the  skeleton,  besides  the 
data  of  daily  life  and  ordinary  behaviour,  which  are,  so  to 
speak,  its  flesh  and  blood,  there  is  still  to  be  recorded  the 
spirit — the  natives'  views  and  opinions  and  utterances.  For, 
in  every  act  of  tribal  life,  there  is,  first,  the  routine  prescribed 
by  custom  and  tradition,  then  there  is  the  manner  in  which  it 
is  carried  out,  and  lastly  there  is  the  commentary  to  it,  con- 
tained in  the  natives'  mind.  A  man  who  submits  to  various 
customary  obligations,  who  follows  a  traditional  course  of 
action,  does  it  impelled  by  certain  motives,  to  the  accompani- 
ment of  certain  feelings,  guided  by  certain  ideas.  These  ideas, 
feelings,  and  impulses  are  moulded  and  conditioned  by  the 
culture  in  which  we  find  them,  and  are  therefore  an  ethnic 
peculiarity  of  the  given  society.  An  attempt  must  be  made 
therefore,  to  study  and  record  them. 

But  is  this  possible  ?  Are  these  subjective  states  not  too 
elusive  and  shapeless  ?  And,  even  granted  that  people 
usually  do  feel  or  think  or  experience  certain  psychological 
states  in  association  with  the  performance  of  customary  acts, 
the  majority  of  them  surely  are  not  able  to  formulate  these 
states,  to  put  them  into  words.  This  latter  point  must  certainly 
be  granted,  and  it  is  perhaps  the  real  Gordian  knot  in  the  study 
of  the  facts  of  social  psychology.  Without  trying  to  cut  or 
untie  this  knot,  that  is  to  solve  the  problem  theoretically,  or  to 
enter  further  into  the  field  of  general  methodology,  I  shall 
make  directly  for  the  question  of  practical  means  to  overcome 
some  of  the  difficulties  involved. 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  23 

First  of  all,  it  has  to  be  laid  down  that  we  have  to  study  here 
stereotyped  manners  of  thinking  and  feeling.  As  sociologists, 
we  are  not  interested  in  what  A  or  B  may  feel  qua  individuals, 
in  the  accidental  course  of  their  own  personal  experiences — we 
are  interested  only  in  what  they  feel  and  think  qua  members 
of  a  given  community.  Now  in  this  capacity,  their  mental 
states  receive  a  certain  stamp,  become  stereotyped  by  the 
institutions  in  which  they  live,  by  the  influence  of  tradition  and 
folk-lore,  by  the  very  vehicle  of  thought,  that  is  by  language. 
The  social  and  cultural  environment  in  which  they  move  forces 
them  to  think  and  feel  in  a  definite  manner.  Thus,  a  man 
who  lives  in  a  polyandrous  community  cannot  experience  the 
same  feelings  of  jealousy,  as  a  strict  monogynist,  though  he 
might  have  the  elements  of  them.  A  man  who  lives  within  the 
sphere  of  the  Kula  cannot  become  permanently  and  senti- 
mentally attached  to  certain  of  his  possessions,  in  spite  of  the 
fact  that  he  values  them  most  of  all.  These  examples  are  crude, 
but  better  ones  will  be  found  in  the  text  of  this  book. 

So,  the  third  commandment  of  field-work  runs  :  Find  out 
the  typical  ways  of  thinking  and  feeling,  corresponding  to  the 
institutions  and  culture  of  a  given  community,  and  formulate 
the  results  in  the  most  convincing  manner.  What  will  be  the 
method  of  procedure  ?  The  best  ethnographical  writers — here 
again  the  Cambridge  school  with  Haddon,  Rivers,  and 
Seligman  rank  first  among  English  Ethnographers — have 
always  tried  to  quote  verbatim  statements  of  crucial  importance. 
They  also  adduce  terms  of  native  classification ;  sociological, 
psychological  and  industrial  termini  technici,  and  have  rendered 
the  verbal  contour  of  native  thought  as  precisely  as  possible. 
One  step  further  in  this  line  can  be  made  by  the  Ethnographer, 
who  acquires  a  knowledge  of  the  native  language  and  can  use  it 
as  an  instrument  of  inquiry.  In  working  in  the  Kiriwinian 
language,  I  found  still  some  difficulty  in  writing  down  the 
statement  directly  in  translation  which  at  first  I  used  to  do 
in  the  act  of  taking  notes.  The  translation  often  robbed  the 
text  of  all  its  significant  characteristics — rubbed  off  all  its 
points — so  that  gradually  I  was  led  to  note  down  certain 
important  phrases  just  as  they  were  spoken,  in  the  native 
tongue.  As  my  knowledge  of  the  language  progressed,  I  put 
down  more  and  more  in  Iliriwinian,  till  at  last  I  found  myself 
writing  exclusively  in  that  language,  rapidly  taking  notes, 


24  SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE 

word  for  word,  of  each  statement.  No  sooner  had  I  arrived 
at  this  point,  than  I  recognised  that  I  was  thus  acquiring  at 
the  same  time  an  abundant  linguistic  material,  and  a  series  of 
ethnographic  documents  which  ought  to  be  reproduced  as  I 
had  fixed  them,  besides  being  utilised  in  the  writing  up  of  my 
account.*  This  corpus  inscriptionum  Kiriwiniensium  can  be 
utilised,  not  only  by  myself,  but  by  all  those  who,  through 
their  better  penetration  and  ability  of  interpreting  them,  may 
find  points  which  escape  my  attention,  very  much  as  the  other 
corpora  form  the  basis  for  the  various  interpretations  of  ancient 
and  prehistoric  cultures  ;  only,  these  ethnographic  inscriptions 
are  all  decipherable  and  clear,  have  been  almost  all  translated 
fully  and  unambiguously,  and  have  been  provided  with  native 
cross-commentaries  or  scholia  obtained  from  living  sources. 

No  more  need  be  said  on  this  subject  here,  as  later  on  a 
whole  chapter  (Chapter  XVIII)  is  devoted  to  it,  and  to  its 
exemplification  by  several  native  texts.  The  Corpus  will  of 
course  be  published  separately  at  a  later  date. 

IX 

Our  considerations  thus  indicate  that  the  goal  of 
ethnographic  field-work  must  be  approached  through  three 
avenues : 

1.  The  organisation  of  the  tribe,  and  the  anatomy  of  its  culture 
must  be   recorded  in   firm,   clear  outline.     The   method   of 
concrete,  statistical  documentation  is  the  means  through  which 
such  an  outline  has  to  be  given. 

2.  Within  this  frame,  the  imponderabilia  of  actual  life,  and 
the  type  of  behaviour  have  to  be  filled  in.     They  have  to  be 
collected  through  minute,  detailed  observations,  in  the  form 
of  some  sort  of  ethnographic  diary,  made  possible  by  close 
contact  with  native  life. 

3.  A  collection  of  ethnographic  statements,  characteristic 
narratives,  typical  utterances,  items  of  folk-lore  and  magical 
formulae  has  to  be  given  as  a  corpus  inscriptionum,  as  documents 
of  native  mentality. 

*  It  was  soon  after  I  had  adopted  this  course  that  I  received  a  letter  from 
Dr.  A.  H.  Gardiner,  the  well-known  Egyptologist,  urging  me  to  do  this  very 
thing.  From  his  point  of  view  as  archaeologist,  he  naturally  saw  the  enormous 
possibilities  for  an  Ethnographer  of  obtaining  a  similar  body  of  written  sources 
as  have  been  preserved  to  us  from  ancient  cultures,  plus  the  possibility  of 
illuminating  them  by  personal  knowledge  of  the  full  life  of  that  culture. 


SUBJECT,  METHOD  AND  SCOPE  25 

These  three  lines  of  approach  lead  to  the  final  goal,  of  which 
an  Ethnographer  should  never  lose  sight.  This  goal  is,  briefly, 
to  grasp  the  native's  point  of  view,  his  relation  to  life,  to  realise 
his  vision  of  his  world.  We  have  to  study  man,  and  we  must 
study  what  concerns  him  most  intimately,  that  is,  the  hold 
which  life  has  on  him.  In  each  culture,  the  values  are  slightly 
different ;  people  aspire  after  different  aims,  follow  different 
impulses,  yearn  after  a  different  form  of  happiness.  In  each 
culture,  we  find  different  institutions  in  which  man  pursues 
his  life-interest,  different  customs  by  which  he  satisfies  his 
aspirations,  different  codes  of  law  and  morality  which  reward 
his  virtues  or  punish  his  defections.  To  study  the  institutions, 
customs,  and  codes  or  to  study  the  behaviour  and  mentality 
without  the  subjective  desire  of  feeling  by  what  these  people 
live,  of  realising  the  substance  of  their  happiness — is,  in  my 
opinion,  to  miss  the  greatest  reward  which  we  can  hope  to 
obtain  from  the  study  of  man. 

These  generalities  the  reader  will  find  illustrated  in  the 
following  chapters.  We  shall  see  there  the  savage  striving  to 
satisfy  certain  aspirations,  to  attain  his  type  of  value,  to  follow 
his  line  of  social  ambition.  We  shall  see  him  led  on  to  perilous 
and  difficult  enterprises  by  a  tradition  of  magical  and  heroical 
exploits,  shall  see  him  following  the  lure  of  his  own  romance. 
Perhaps  as  we  read  the  account  of  these  remote  customs  there 
may  emerge  a  feeling  of  solidarity  with  the  endeavours  and 
ambitions  of  these  natives.  Perhaps  man's  mentality  will 
be  revealed  to  us,  and  brought  near,  along  some  lines  which 
we  never  have  followed  before.  Perhaps  through  realising 
human  nature  in  a  shape  very  distant  and  foreign  to  us,  we 
shall  have  some  light  shed  on  our  own.  In  this,  and  in  this 
case  only,  we  shall  be  justified  in  feeling  that  it  has  been  worth 
our  while  to  understand  these  natives,  their  institutions  and 
customs,  and  that  we  have  gathered  some  profit  from  the 
Kula. 


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CHAPTER  I 

THE  COUNTRY  AND   INHABITANTS   OF  THE   KULA 

DISTRICT 

I 

THE  tribes  who  live  within  the  sphere  of  the  Kula  system  of 
trading  belong,  one  and  all — with  the  exception  perhaps,  of 
the  Rossel  Island  natives,  of  whom  we  know  next  to  nothing 
— to  the  same  racial  group.  These  tribes  inhabit  the  eastern- 
most end  of  the  mainland  of  New  Guinea  and  those  islands, 
scattered  in  the  form  of  the  long-drawn  archipelago,  which 
continue  in  the  same  south-easternly  trend  as  the  mainland, 
as  if  to  bridge  over  the  gap  between  New  Guinea  and  the 
Solomons. 

New  Guinea  is  a  mountainous  island-continent,  very 
difficult  of  access  in  its  interior,  and  also  at  certain  portions 
of  the  coast,  where  barrier  reefs,  swamps  and  rocks  practically 
prevent  landing  or  even  approach  for  native  craft.  Such  a 
country  would  obviously  not  offer  the  same  opportunities  in 
all  its  parts  to  the  drifting  migrations  which  in  all  probability 
are  responsible  for  the  composition  of  the  present  population 
of  the  South  Seas.  The  easily  accessible  portions  of  the  coast 
and  the  outlying  islands  would  certainly  offer  a  hospitable 
reception  to  immigrants  of  a  higher  stock  ;  but,  on  the  other 
hand,  the  high  hills,  the  impregnable  fastnesses  in  swampy 
flats  and  shores  where  landing  was  difficult  and  dangerous, 
would  give  easy  protection  to  the  aborigines,  and  discourage 
the  influx  of  migrators. 

The  actual  distribution  of  races  in  New  Guinea  completely 
justifies  these  hypotheses.  Map  II  shows  the  Eastern  part 
of  the  main  island  and  archipelagoes  of  New  Guinea  and  the 
racial  distribution  of  the  natives.  The  interior  of  the 
continent,  the  low  sago  swamps  and  deltas  of  the  Gulf  of  Papua 
— probably  the  greater  part  of  the  North  Coast  and  of  the 
South- West  Coast  of  New  Guinea,  are  inhabited  by  a  "  relatively 


28  THE  KULA  DISTRICT 

tall,  dark-skinned,  frizzly-haired  "  race,  called  by  Dr.  Seligman 
Papuan,  and  in  the  hills  more  especially  by  pygmy  tribes. 
We  know  little  about  these  people,  swamp  tribes  and  hill 
tribes  alike,  who  probably  are  the  autochtons  in  this  part  of 
the  world.*  As  we  shall  also  not  meet  them  in  the  following 
account,  it  will  be  better  to  pass  to  the  tribes  who  inhabit  the 
accessible  parts  of  New  Guinea.  "  The  Eastern  Papuasians, 
that  is,  the  generally  smaller,  lighter  coloured*  frizzly-haired 
races  of  the  eastern  peninsula  of  New  Guinea  and  its  archi- 
pelagoes now  require  a  name,  and  since  the  true  Melanesian 
element  is  dominant  in  them,  they  may  be  called  Papuo- 
Melanesians.  With  regard  to  these  Eastern  Papuasians,  Dr. 
A.  C.  Haddon  first  recognised  that  they  came  into  the  country 
as  the  result  of  a  '  Melanesian  migration  into  New  Guinea/ 
and  further,  '  That  a  single  wandering  would  not  account  for 
certain  puzzling  facts/  "f  The  Papuo-Melanesians  again  can 
be  divided  into  two  groups,  a  Western  and  an  Eastern  one, 
which,  following  Dr.  Seligman's  terminology,  we  shall  call  the 
Western  Papuo-Melanesians  and  the  Massim  respectively.  It 
is  with  these  latter  we  shall  become  acquainted  in  the 
following  pages. 

If  we  glance  at  a  map  and  follow  the  orographical  features 
of  Eastern  New  Guinea  and  its  coast  line,  we  see  at  once  that 
the  high  main  range  of  mountains  drops  off  between  the  i4Qth 
and  isoth  meridians,  and  again  that  the  fringing  reef  disappears 
at  the  same  point,  that  is,  at  the  west  end  of  Orangerie  Bay. 
This  means  that  the  extreme  East  End  of  New  Guinea,  with 
its  archipelagoes,  in  other  words,  the  Massim  country,  is  the 
most  easily  accessible  area,  and  might  be  expected  to  be 
inhabited  by  a  homogeneous  stock  of  people,  consisting  of 

*  The  best  accounts  we  possess  of  the  inland  tribes  are  those  of  W.  H. 
Williamson,  "The  Mafulu,"  1912,  and  of  C.  Keysser,  "  Aus  dem  Leben  der 
Kaileute,"  in  R.  Neuhauss,  '*  Deutsch  Neu  Guinea,"  Vol.  III.  Berlin,  1911. 
The  preliminary  publications  of  G.  Landtmann  on  the  Kiwai,  **  Papuan  magic 
in  the  Building  of  Houses/'  "  Acta  Arboenses,  Humanora."  I.  Abo,  1920, 
and  "The  Folk-Tales  of  the  Kiwai  Papuans,"  Helsmgfors,  1917,  promise  that 
the  full  account  will  dispel  some  of  the  mysteries  surrounding  the  Gulf  of 
Papua.  Meanwhile  a  good  semi-popular  account  of  these  natives  is  to  be  found 
in  W.  N.  Beaver's  "  Unexplored  New  Guinea,"  1920.  Personally  I  doubt 
very  much  whether  the  hill  tribes  and  the  swamp  tribes  belong  to  the  same 
stock  or  have  the  same  culture.  Compare  also  the  most  recent  contribution  to 
this  problem  "  Migrations  of  Cultures  in  British  New  Guinea,"  by  A.  C. 
Haddon,  Huxley  Memorial  Lecture  for  1921,  published  by  the  R.  Anthrop 
Institute. 

f  vSee  C.  G.  Seligman,  "The  Melanesians  of  British  New  Guinea,"  Cam- 
bridge, 1910. 


THE  KULA  DISTRICT  29 

immigrants  almost  unmixed  with  the  autochtons  (Cf.  Map  II). 
"  Indeed,  while  the  condition  actually  existing  in  the  Massim 
area  suggests  that  there  was  no  slow  mingling  of  the  invaders 
with  a  previous  stock,  the  geographical  features  of  the  territory 
of  the  Western  Papuo-Melanesians  with  its  hills,  mountains 
and  swamps,  are  such  that  invaders  could  not  have  speedily 
overrun  the  country,  nor  failed  to  have  been  influenced  by  the 
original  inhabitants.  .  .  ."* 

I  shall  assume  that  the  reader  is  acquainted  with  the 
quoted  work  of  Dr.  Seligman,  where  a  thorough  account  is 
given  of  all  the  main  types  of  Papuo-Melanesian  sociology  and 
culture  one  after  the  other.  But  the  tribes  of  the  Eastern 
Papuo-Melanesian  or  Massim  area,  must  be  described  here 
somewhat  more  in  detail,  as  it  is  within  this  fairly  homogeneous 
area  that  the  Kula  takes  place.  Indeed,  the  Kula  sphere  of 
influence  and  the  ethnographic  area  of  the  Massim  tribes 
almost  completely  overlap,  and  we  can  speak  about  the  Kula 
type  of  culture  and  the  Massim  culture  almost  synonymously. 

II 

The  adjacent  Map  III  shows  the  Kula  district,  that  is,  the 
easternmost  end  of  the  main  island  and  the  archipelagoes  lying 
to  its  East  and  North-East.  As  Professor  C.  G.  Seligman 
says  :  "  This  area  can  be  divided  into  two  parts,  a  small 
northern  portion  comprising  the  Trobriands,  the  Marshall 
Rennets,  the  Woodlarks  (Murua),  as  well  as  a  number  of 
smaller  islands  such  as  the  Laughlans  (Nada),  and  a  far  larger 
southern  portion  comprising  the  remainder  of  the  Massim 
domain"  (op.  cit.,  p.  7). 

This  division  is  represented  on  Map  III  by  the  thick  line 
isolating  to  the  North  the  Amphletts,  the  Trobriands,  the  small 
Marshall  Bennet  Group,  Woodlark  Island  and  the  Laughlan 
Group.  The  Southern  portion,  I  found  convenient  to  divide 
further  into  two  divisions  by  a  vertical  line,  leaving  to  the 
East  Misima,  Sud-Est  Island  and  Rossel  Island.  As  our 
information  about  this  district  is  extremely  scanty,  I  have 
preferred  to  exclude  it  from  the  area  of  the  Southern  Massim. 
In  this  excluded  area,  only  the  natives  of  Misima  enter  into  the 
Kula,  but  their  participation  will  play  a  very  small  part  only 
in  the  following  account.  The  western  segment,  and  this  is 
*  Cf.  C.  G.  Seligman,  op.  cit.,  p.  5. 


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THE  KULA  DISTRICT  31 

the  part  of  which  we  shall  speak  as  the  district  of  the  Southern 
Massim,  comprises  first  the  East  End  of  the  mainland,  the  few 
adjacent  islands,  Sariba,  Roge'a,  Side'a,  and  Basilaki;  to  the 
South,  the  island  of  Wari,  to  the  East  the  important,  though 
small  archipelago  of  Tubetube  (Engineer  Group)  ;  and  to  the 
North,  the  big  archipelago  of  the  d'Entrecasteaux  Islands. 
From  this  latter,  only  one  district,  that  of  Dobu,  interests  us 
more  specially.  The  culturally  homogeneous  tribes  of  the 
Southern  Massim  have  been  marked  off  on  our  map  as  district 
V,  the  Doubans  as  district  IV. 

Returning  to  the  two  main  divisions  into  the  Southern 
and  Northern  portion,  this  latter  is  occupied  by  a  very  homo- 
geneous population,  homogeneous  both  in  language  and 
culture,  and  in  the  clear  recognition  of  their  own  ethnic  unity. 
To  quote  further  Professor  Seligman,  it  "  is  characterised  by 
the  absence  of  cannibalism,  which,  until  put  down  by  the 
Government,  existed  throughout  the  remaining  portion  of  the 
district ;  another  peculiarity  of  the  Northern  Massim  is  their 
recognition  "  in  certain  districts,  though  not  in  all,  of  chief  tans 
who  wield  extensive  powers  (op.  cit.  p.  7).  The  natives  of  that 
northern  area  used  to  practise — I  say  used  because  wars  are 
a  thing  of  the  past — a  type  of  warfare  open  and  chivalrous, 
very  different  from  the  raids  of  the  Southern  Massim.  Their 
villages  are  built  in  big  compact  blocks,  and  they  have  store- 
houses on  piles  for  storing  food,  distinct  from  their  rather 
miserable  dwellings,  which  stand  directly  on  the  ground  and 
are  not  raised  on  piles.  As  can  be  seen  on  the  map,  it  has  been 
necessary  to  sub-divide  this  Northern  Massim  further  into 
three  groups,  first,  that  of  the  Trobriand  Islanders,  or  the 
Boyowans  (the  Western  Branch)  ;  secondly  that  of  the  natives 
of  Woodlark  Island  and  the  Marshall  Bennets  (the  Eastern 
Branch) ;  and,  thirdly,  the  small  group  of  the  Amphlett  natives. 

The  other  big  sub-division  of  the  Kula  tribes  is  composed 
of  the  Southern  Massim,  of  which,  as  just  said,  the  western 
branch  mainly  concerns  us.  These  last  natives  are  smaller 
in  stature,  and  with,  broadly  speaking,  a  much  less  attractive 
appearance  than  those  of  the  North.*  They  live  in  widely 

*  A  number  of  good  portraits  of  the  S.  Massim  type  are  to  be  found  in 
the  valuable  book  ot  the  Rev.  H.  Newton,  "  In  Far  New  Guinea,"  1914  and  in 
the  amusingly  written  though  superficial  and  often  unreliable  booklet  of  the 
Rev.  C.  W.  Abel  (London  Missionary  Society),  "  Savage  Life  in  New  Guinea  " 
(No  date). 


32  THE  KULA  DISTRICT 

scattered  communities,  each  house  or  group  of  houses  standing 
in  its  own  little  grove  of  palm  and  fruit  trees,  apart  from  the 
others.  Formerly  they  were  cannibals  and  head-hunters, 
and  used  to  make  unexpected  raids  on  their  adversaries.  There 
is  no  chieftainship,  authority  being  exercised  by  the  elders  in 
each  community.  They  build  very  elaborately  constructed 
and  beautifully  decorated  houses  on  piles. 

I  have  found  it  necessary  for  the  purpose  of  this  study  to 
cut  out  of  the  western  branch  of  the  southern  portion  of  the 
Massim  the  two  areas  (marked  IV  and  V  on  the  Map  III), 
as  they  are  of  special  importance  to  the  Kula.  It  must,  how- 
ever, be  borne  in  mind  that  our  present  knowledge  does  not 
allow  of  any  final  classification  of  the  Southern  Massim. 

Such  are  the  general  characteristics  of  the  Northern  and 
Southern  Massim  respectively,  given  in  a  few  words.  But 
before  proceeding  with  our  subject,  it  will  be  good  to  give  a 
short  but  more  detailed  sketch  of  each  of  these  tribes.  I  shall 
begin  with  the  southernmost  section,  following  the  order  in 
which  a  visitor,  travelling  from  Port  Moresby  with  the  Mail 
boat,  would  come  in  contact  with  these  districts,  the  way  indeed 
in  which  I  received  my  first  impressions  of  them.  My  personal 
knowledge  of  the  various  tribes  is,  however,  very  uneven, 
based  on  a  long  residence  among  the  Trobriand  Islanders 
(District  I),  on  a  month's  study  of  the  Amphletts  (District 
III)  ;  on  a  few  weeks  spent  in  Woodlark  Island  or  Murua 
(District  II),  the  neighbourhood  of  Samarai  (District  V),  and 
the  South  Coast  of  New  Guinea  (also  V)  ;  and  on  three  short 
visits  to  Dobu  (District  IV).  My  knowledge  of  some  of  the 
remaining  localities  which  enter  into  the  Kula  is  derived  only 
from  a  few  conversations  I  had  with  natives  of  this  district, 
and  on  second-hand  information  derived  from  white  residents. 
The  work  of  Professor  C.  G.  Seligman,  however,  supplements 
my  personal  acquaintance  in  so  far  as  the  districts  of  Tubetube, 
Woodlark  Island,  the  Marshall  Bennets,  and  several  others 
are  concerned. 

The  whole  account  of  the  Kula  will  therefore  naturally  be 
given  from  the  perspective,  so  to  speak,  of  the  Trobriand 
district.  This  district  is  often  called  in  this  book  by  its  native 
name,  Boyowa,  and  the  language  is  spoken  of  as  Kiriwinian, 
Kiriwina  being  the  main  province  of  the  district,  and  its 
language  considered  by  the  natives  as  a  standard  speech.  But 


THE  KULA  DISTRICT  33 

I  may  add  at  once  that  in  studying  the  Kula  in  that  part,  I 
ipso  facto  studied  its  adjacent  branches  between  the  Trobriands 
and  the  Amphletts,  between  the  Trobriands  and  Kitava,  and 
between  the  Trobriands  and  Dobu ;  seeing  not  only  the 
preparations  and  departures  in  Boyowa,  but  also  the  arrival 
of  the  natives  from  other  districts,  in  fact,  following  one  or 
two  of  such  expeditions  in  person.*  Moreover,  the  Kula  being 
an  international  affair,  the  natives  of  one  tribe  know  more 
about  Kula  customs  abroad  than  they  would  about  any  other 
subject.  And  in  all  its  essentials,  the  customs  and  tribal  rules 
of  the  exchange  are  identical  throughout  the  whole  Kula  area. 

Ill 

Let  us  imagine  that  we  are  sailing  along  the  South  coast 
of  New  Guinea  towards  its  Eastern  end.  At  about  the  middle 
of  Orangerie  Bay  we  arrive  at  the  boundary  of  the  Massim, 
which  runs  from  this  point  north-westwards  till  it  strikes  the 
northern  coast  near  Cape  Nelson  (see  Map  II).  As  mentioned 
before,  the  boundary  of  the  district  inhabited  by  this  tribe 
corresponds  to  definite  geographical  conditions,  that  is,  to  the 
absence  of  natural,  inland  fastnesses,  or  of  any  obstacles  to 
landing.  Indeed,  it  is  here  that  the  Great  Barrier  Reef  becomes 
finally  submerged,  while  again  the  Main  Range  of  mountains, 
which  follows  up  to  this  point,  always  separated  from  the 
foreshore  by  minor  ranges,  comes  to  an  end. 

Orangerie  Bay  is  closed,  on  its  Eastern  side,  by  a  headland, 
the  first  of  a  series  of  hills,  rising  directly  out  of  the  sea.  As  we 
approach  the  land,  we  can  see  distinctly  the  steep,  folded 
slopes,  covered  with  dense,  rank  jungle,  brightened  here  and 
there  by  bold  patches  of  lalang  grass.  The  coast  is  broken 
first  by  a  series  of  small,  land-locked  bays  or  lagoons  ;  then, 
after  Fife  Bay,  come  one  or  two  larger  bays,  with  a  flat,  alluvial 
foreshore,  and  then  from  South  Cape  the  coast  stretches  in  an 
almost  unbroken  line,  for  several  miles,  to  the  end  of  the 
mainland. 

The  East  End  of  New  Guinea  is  a  tropical  region,  where 
the  distinction  between  the  dry  and  wet  season  is  not  felt  very 
sharply.  In  fact,  there  is  no  pronounced  dry  season  there, 
and  so  the  land  is  always  clad  in  intense,  shining  green,  which 
forms  a  crude  contrast  with  the  blue  sea.  The  summits  of  the 

*  See  Table  id  the  Introduction  (p.  16),  and  also  Chapters  XVI  and  XX. 


34  THE  KULA  DISTRICT 

hills  are  often  shrouded  in  trailing  mist,  whilst  white  clouds 
brood  or  race  over  the  sea,  breaking  up  the  monotony  of 
saturated,  stiff  blue  and  green.  To  someone  not  acquainted 
with  the  South  Sea  landscape  it  is  difficult  to  convey  the 
permanent  impression  of  smiling  festiveness,  the  alluring 
clearness  of  the  beach,  fringed  by  jungle  trees  and  palms, 
skirted  by  white  foam  and  blue  sea,  above  it  the  slopes  ascending 
in  rich,  stiff  folds  of  dark  and  light  green,  piebald  and  shaded 
over  towards  the  summit  by  steamy,  tropical  mists. 

When  I  first  sailed  along  this  coast,  it  was  after  a  few 
months'  residence  and  field  work  in  the  neighbouring  district 
of  the  Mailu.  From  Toulon  Island,  the  main  centre  and  most 
important  settlement  of  the  Mailu,  I  used  to  look  towards  the 
East  end  of  Orangerie  Bay,  and  on  clear  days  I  could  see  the 
pyrajnidal  hills  of  Bonabona,  of  Gadogado'a,  as  blue  silhouettes 
in  the  distance.  Under  the  influence  of  my  work,  I  came  to 
regard  this  country  within  the  somewhat  narrow  native 
horizon,  as  the  distant  land  to  which  perilous,  seasonal  voyages 
are  made,  from  whence  come  certain  objects — baskets, 
decorated  carvings,  weapons,  ornaments — particularly  well 
formed,  and  superior  to  the  local  ones  ;  the  land  to  which  the 
natives  point  with  awe  and  distrust,  when  speaking  of  specially 
evil  and  virulent  forms  of  sorcery ;  the  home  of  a  folk  mentioned 
with  horror  as  cannibals.  Any  really  fine  touch  of  artistic 
taste,  in  Mailu  carvings,  would  always  be  directly  imported 
or  imitated  from  the  East,  and  I  also  found  that  the  softest 
and  most  melodious  songs  and  the  finest  dances  came  from  the 
Massim.  Many  of  their  customs  and  institutions  would  be 
quoted  to  me  as  quaint  and  unusual,  and  thus,  I,  the  ethno- 
grapher working  on  the  borderland  of  two  cultures,  naturally 
had  my  interest  and  curiosity  aroused.  It  seemed  as  if  the 
Eastern  people  must  be  much  more  complex,  in  one  direction 
towards  the  cruel,  man-eating  savage,  in  the  other  towards 
the  finely-gifted,  poetical  lord  of  primitive  forest  and  seas, 
when  I  compared  them  with  the  relatively  coarse  and  dull 
native  of  Mailu.  No  wonder,  therefore,  that  on  approaching 
their  coast — travelling  on  that  occasion  in  a  small  launch — I 
scanned  the  landscape  with  keen  interest,  anxious  to  catch  my 
first  glimpse  of  natives,  or  of  their  traces. 

The  first  distinctly  visible  signs  of  human  existence  in  this 
neighbourhood  are  the  patches  of  garden  land.  These  big 


THE  KULA  DISTRICT  35 

clearings,  triangular  in  shape,  with  the  apex  pointing  uphill, 
look  as  if  they  were  plastered  on  to  the  steep  slopes.  From 
August  to  November,  the  season  when  the  natives  cut  and 
burn  the  bush,  they  can  be  seen,  at  night,  alight  with  slowly- 
blazing  logs,  and  in  daytime,  their  smoke  clings  over  the 
clearings,  and  slowly  drifts  along  the  hill  side.  Later  on  in  the 
year,  when  the  plantation  sprouts,  they  form  a  bright  spot, 
with  the  light  green  of  their  fresh  leaves. 

The  villages  in  this  district  are  to  be  found  only  on  the 
foreshore,  at  the  foot  of  the  hills,  hidden  in  groves  of  trees, 
with  here  and  there  a  golden  or  purplish  bit  of  thatch  showing 
through  the  dark  green  of  the  leaves.  In  calm  weather  a  few 
canoes  are  probably  not  far  oft,  fishing.  If  the  visitor  is 
lucky  enough  to  pass  at  the  time  of  feasts,  trading  expeditions, 
or  any  other  big  tribal  gathering,  many  a  fine  sea-going  canoe 
may  be  seen  approaching  the  village  with  the  sound  of  conch 
shells  blowing  melodiously. 

In  order  to  visit  one  of  the  typical,  large  settlements  of 
these  natives,  let  us  say  near  Fife  Bay,  on  the  South  coast, 
or  on  the  island  of  Sariba,  or  Roge'a,  it  would  be  best  to  go 
ashore  in  some  big,  sheltered  bay,  or  on  one  of  the  extensive 
beaches  at  the  foot  of  a  hilly  island.  We  enter  a  clear,  lofty 
grove,  composed  of  palms,  bread  fruit,  mangoes,  and  other 
fruit  trees,  often  with  a  sandy  subsoil,  well  weeded-out  and 
clean,  where  grow  clumps  of  ornamental  bushes,  such  as  the 
red-flowering  hybiscus,  croton  or  aromatic  shrub.  Here  we 
find  the  village.  Fascinating  as  may  be  the  Motuan  habita- 
tions standing  on  high  piles  in  the  middle  of  a  lagoon,  or  the 
neat  streets  of  an  Aroma  or  Mailu  settlement,  or  the  irregular 
warren  of  small  huts  on  the  Trobriand  coast,  all  these  cannot 
compete  in  picturesqueness  or  charm  with  the  villages  of  the 
Southern  Massim.  When,  on  a  hot  day,  we  enter  the  deep 
shadow  of  fruit  trees  and  palms,  and  find  ourselves  in  the  midst 
of  the  wonderfully  designed  and  ornamented  houses  hiding 
here  and  there  in  irregular  groups  among  the  green,  surrounded 
by  little  decorative  gardens  of  shells  and  flowers,  with  pebble- 
bordered  paths  and  stone-paved  sitting  circles,  it  seems  as  if 
the  visions  of  a  primeval,  happy,  savage  life  were  suddenly 
realised,  even  if  only  in  a  fleeting  impression.  Big  bodies  of 
canoes  are  drawn  high  up  the  beach  and  covered  with  palm 
leaves  ;  here  and  there  nets  are  drying,  spread  out  on  special 


36  THE  KULA  DISTRICT 

stands,  and  on  the  platforms  in  front  of  the  houses  sit  groups  of 
men  and  women,  busy  at  some  domestic  work,  smoking 
and  chatting. 

Walking  along  the  paths  which  lead  on  for  miles,  we  come 
every  few  hundred  yards  on  another  hamlet  of  a  few  houses. 
Some  of  these  are  evidently  new  and  freshly  decorated,  while 
others  are  abandoned,  and  a  heap  of  broken  household  objects 
is  lying  on  the  ground,  showing  that  the  death  of  one  of  the 
village  elders  has  caused  it  to  be  deserted.  As  the  evening 
approaches,  the  life  becomes  more  active,  fires  are  kindled,  and 
the  natives  busy  themselves  cooking  and  eating  food.  In  the 
dancing  season,  towards  dusk,  groups  of  men  and  women 
foregather,  singing,  dancing,  and  beating  drums. 

When  we  approach  the  natives  closer  and  scan  their  personal 
appearance,  we  are  struck — if  we  compare  them  with  their 
Western  neighbours — by  the  extreme  lightness  of  their  skin, 
their  sturdy,  even  lumpy  stature,  and  a  sort  of  soft,  almost 
effete  general  impression  which  their  physique  produces.  Their 
fat,  broad  faces,  their  squashed  noses,  and  frequently  oblique 
eyes,  make  them  appear  quaint  and  grotesque  rather  than 
impressively  savage.  Their  hair,  not  so  woolly  as  that  of  the 
pure  Papuans,  nor  growing  into  the  enormous  halo  of  the 
Motuans,  is  worn  in  big  mops,  which  they  often  cut  at  the  sides 
so  as  to  give  the  head  an  oblong,  almost  cylindrical  shape. 
Their  manner  is  shy  and  diffident,  but  not  unfriendly — rather 
smiling  and  almost  servile,  in  very  great  contrast  to  the 
morose  Papuan,  or  the  unfriendly,  reserved  South  Coast  Mailu 
or  Aroma.  On  the  whole,  they  give  at  first  approach  not  so 
much  the  impression  of  wild  savages  as  of  smug  and  self- 
satisfied  bourgeois. 

Their  ornaments  are  much  less  elaborate  and  more  toned 
down  than  those  of  their  Western  neighbours.  Belts  and 
armlets  plaited  of  a  dark  brown  fern  vine,  small  red  shell 
disks  and  turtle  shell  rings  as  ear  ornaments  are  the  only 
permanent,  every-day  decorations  worn.  Like  all  Melanesians 
of  Eastern  New  Guinea,  they  are  quite  cleanly  in  their  persons, 
and  a  personal  approach  to  them  does  not  offend  any  of  our 
senses.  They  are  very  fond  of  red  hibiscus  flowers  stuck  in 
their  hair,  of  scented  flower  wreaths  on  their  head,  of  aromatic 
leaves  thrust  into  their  belts  and  armlets.  Their  grand, 
festive  head-dress  is  extremely  modest  compared  with  the 


PLATE  V 


SCFNBS  ON  THH  BEACH  OF  SILOSILO  (SOUTifKRN   MASSIM 
DISTRICT) 

These  represent  phases  of  a  big  annual  feast,  the  .<///.  (Set  Oiv.  Ill,  and 
compare  also  Ch,  XXI.)  Note  the  prominent  part  taken  by  women  in  the 
proceedings  ;  the  use  of  the  "  ceremonial  **  uxc  handles  ;  the  manner  of 


carrying  pigs,  and  the  canoes  beached  on  the  shore 


(face  p.  36 


PLATE  VI 


VILLAGE.    SCENES   DURING    A    SO'l    FEAST 

These  show  types  of  Southern   Massim  and  their  decorations  ;    again  note 
the  prominent  part  taken  by  women  in  the  ceremonial  actions.    (See  Div.  III.) 


THE  KULA  DISTRICT  37 

enormous  erections  of  feathers  used  by  the  Western  tribes, 
and  consists  mainly  of  a  round  halo  of  white  cockatoo  feathers 
stuck  into  their  hair  (see  Plate  V  and  VI). 

In  olden  days,  before  the  advent  of  white  men,  these 
pleasant,  apparently  effete  people  were  inveterate  cannibals 
and  head-hunters,  and  in  their  large  war-canoes  they  carried 
on  treacherous,  cruel  raids,  falling  upon  sleeping  villages, 
killing  man,  woman  and  child,  and  feasting  on  their  bodies. 
The  attractive  stone  circles  in  their  villages  were  associated 
with  their  cannibal  feasts.* 

The  traveller,  who  could  settle  down  in  one  of  their  villages 
and  remain  there  sufficiently  long  to  study  their  habits  and 
enter  into  their  tribal  life,  would  soon  be  struck  by  the  absence 
of  a  well  recognised  general  authority.  In  this,  however, 
the  natives  resemble  not  only  the  other  Western  Melanesians 
of  New  Guinea,  but  also  the  natives  of  the  Melanesian  Archi- 
pelago. The  authority  in  the  Southern  Massim  tribe,  as  in 
many  others,  is  vested  in  the  village  elders.  In  each  hamlet 
the  eldest  man  has  a  position  of  personal  influence  and  power, 
and  these  collectively  would  in  all  cases  represent  the  tribe  and 
carry  out  and  enforce  their  decisions — always  arrived  at  in 
strict  accord  with  tribal  tradition. 

Deeper  sociological  study  would  reveal  the  characteristic 
totemism  of  these  natives,  and  also  the  matrilineal  construction 
of  their  society.  Descent,  inheritance,  and  social  position 
follow  the  female  line — a  man  always  belongs  to  his  mother's 
totemic  division  and  local  group,  and  inherits  from  his  mother's 
brother.  Women  also  enjoy  a  very  independent  position,  and 
are  exceedingly  well  treated,  and  in  tribal  and  festive  affairs 
they  play  a  prominent  part  (see  Plates  V  and  VI).  Some 
women,  even,  owing  to  their  magical  powers,  wield  a  consider- 
able influence,  f 

The  sexual  life  of  these  natives  is  extremely  lax.  Even 
when  we  remember  the  very  free  standard  of  sex  morals  in  the 
Melanesian  tribes  of  New  Guinea,  such  as  the  Motu  or  the 
Mailu,  we  still  find  these  natives  exceedingly  loose  in  such 
matters.  Certain  reserves  and  appearances  which  are  usually 
kept  up  in  other  tribes,  are  here  completely  abandoned.  As  is 
probably  the  case  in  many  communities  where  sex  morals  are 

*  Cf.  Professor  C.  G.  Seligman,  op.  cit.,  Chapters  XL  and  XLII. 

|  Professor  C  G.  Seligman,  op.  cit.,  Chapters  XXXV,  XXXVI,  XXXVII. 


38  THE  KULA  DISTRICT 

lax,  there  is  a  complete  absence  of  unnatural  practices  and 
sex  perversions.  Marriage  is  concluded  as  the  natural  end  of 
a  long  and  lasting  liaison.* 

These  natives  are  efficient  and  industrious  manufacturers, 
and  great  traders.  They  own  large  sea-going  canoes,  which, 
however,  they  do  not  manufacture  themselves,  but  which  they 
import  from  the  Northern  Massim  district,  or  from  Panayati. 
Another  feature  of  their  culture,  which  we  shall  meet  again, 
consists  of  their  big  feasts,  called  So'i  (see  Plates  V  and  VI), 
associated  with  mortuary  celebrations  and  with  a  special 
mortuary  taboo  called  gwara.  In  the  big  inter-tribal  trading 
of  the  Kula,  these  feasts  play  a  considerable  role. 

This  general,  and  necessarily  somewhat  superficial  descrip- 
tion, is  meant  to  give  the  reader  a  definite  impression  of  these 
tribes,  provide  them,  so  to  speak,  with  a  physiognomy,  rather 
than  to  give  a  full  account  of  their  tribal  constitution.  For 
this  the  reader  is  referred  to  Professor  C.  G.  Seligman's  treatise, 
our  main  source  of  knowledge  on  the  Melanesians  of  New 
Guinea.  The  above  sketch  refers  to  'what  Professor  Seligman 
calls  the  Southern  Massim,  or  more  exactly  to  the  portion 
marked  off  in  the  Ethnographic  sketch  Map  No.  Ill  as 
"  V,  the  Southern  Massim  " — the  inhabitants  of  the  Eastern- 
most mainland  and  the  adjacent  archipelago. 

IV 

Let  us  now  move  North,  towards  the  district  marked  "  IV, 
the  Dobu,"  in  our  map,  which  forms  one  of  the  most  important 
links  in  the  chain  of  Kula  and  a  very  influential  centre  of 
cultural  influence.  As  we  sail  North,  passing  East  Cape,  the 
Easternmost  point  of  the  main  island — a  long,  flat  promontory 
covered  with  palms  and  fruit  belts,  and  harbouring  a  very 
dense  population — a  new  world,  new  both  geographically  and 
ethnographically,  opens  up  before  us.  At  first  it  is  only  a 
faint,  bluish  silhouette,  like  a  shadow  of  a  distant  mountain 
range,  hovering  far  north  over  the  horizon.  As  we  approach, 
the  hills  of  Normanby,  the  nearest  of  three  big  islands  of  the 
d'Entrecasteaux  Archipelago,  become  clearer  and  take  more 
definite  shape  and  substance.  A  few  high  summits  stand  out 
more  distinctly  through  the  usual  tropical  haze,  among  them 
the  characteristic  double-peaked  top  of  Bwebweso,  the  mountain 
*  Cf.  Professor  C.  G.  Seligman,  Chapters  XXXVII  and  XXXVIII. 


THE  KULA  DISTRICT  39 

where,  according  to  native  legend,  the  spirits  of  the  dead  in 
these  parts  lead  their  latter  existence.  The  South  Coast  of 
Normanby,  and  the  interior  are  inhabited  by  a  tribe  or  tribes 
of  which  we  know  nothing  ethnographically,  except  that  they 
differ  culturally  from  the  rest  of  their  neighbours.  These 
tribes  also  take  no  direct  part  in  the  Kula. 

The  Northern  end  of  Normanby,  both  sides  of  the  Dawson 
Straits  which  separate  the  two  islands  of  Normanby  and 
Fergusson,  and  the  South-eastern  tip  of  Fergusson,  are 
inhabited  by  a  very  important  tribe,  the  Dobu.  The  heart 
of  their  district  is  the  small  extinct  volcano  forming  an 
island  at  the  Eastern  entrance  to  Dawson  Straits — Dobu, 
after  which  island  they  are  named.  To  reach  it,  we  have  to 
sail  through  this  extremely  picturesque  channel.  On  either 
side  of  the  winding,  narrow  strait,  green  hills  descend,  and 
close  it  in,  till  it  is  more  like  a  mountain  lake.  Here  and  there 
they  recede,  and  a  lagoon  opens  out.  Or  again  they  rise  in 
fairly  steep  slopes,  on  which  there  can  be  plainly  seen  triangular 
gardens,  native  houses  on  piles,  large  tracts  of  unbroken  jungle 
and  patches  of  grass  land.  As  we  proceed,  the  narrow  straits 
broaden,  and  we  see  on  our  right  a  wide  flank  of  Mt.  Sulomona'i 
on  Normanby  Island.  On  our  left,  there  is  a  shallow  bay,  and 
behind  it  a  large,  flat  plain,  stretching  far  into  the  interior  of 
Fergusson  Island,  and  over  it,  we  look  into  wide  valleys,  and 
on  to  several  distant  mountain  ranges.  After  another  turn, 
We  enter  a  big  bay,  on  both  sides  bordered  by  a  flat  foreshore, 
and  in  the  middle  of  it  rises  out  of  a  girdle  of  tropical  vegetation, 
the  creased  cone  of  an  extinct  volcano,  the  island  of  Dobu. 

We  are  now  in  the  centre  of  a  densely  populated  and 
ethnographically  important  district.  From  this  island,  in 
olden  days,  fierce  and  daring  cannibal  and  head-hunting 
expeditions  were  periodically  launched,  to  the  dread  of  the 
neighbouring  tribes.  The  natives  of  the  immediately  surround- 
ing districts,  of  the  flat  foreshore  on  both  sides  of  the  straits, 
and  of  the  big  neighbouring  islands  were  allies.  But  the  more 
distant  districts,  often  over  a  hundred  miles  away  by  sail, 
never  felt  safe  from  the  Dobuans.  Again,  this  was,  and  still 
is,  one  of  the  main  links  in  the  Kula,  a  centre  of  trade, 
industries  and  general  cultural  influence.  It  is  characteristic 
of  the  international  position  of  the  Dobuans  that  their  language 
is  spoken  as  a  lingua  franca  all  over  the  d'Entrecasteaux 


40  THE  KULA  DISTRICT 

Archipelago,  in  the  Amphletts,  and  as  far  north  as  the  Tro- 
briands.  In  the  southern  part  of  these  latter  islands,  almost 
everyone  speaks  Dobuan,  although  in  Dobu  the  language  of 
the  Trobriands  or  Kiriwinian  is  hardly  spoken  by  anyone. 
This  is  a  remarkable  fact,,  which  cannot  be  easily  explained 
in  terms  of  the  present  conditions,  as  the  Trobrianders,  if 
anything,  are  on  a  higher  level  of  cultural  development  than 
Dobuans,  are  more  numerous,  and  enjoy  the  same  general 
prestige.* 

Another  remarkable  fact  about  Dobu  and  its  district  is 
that  it  is  studded  with  spots  of  special,  mythological  interest. 
Its  charming  scenery,  of  volcanic  cones,  of  wide,  calm  bays, 
and  lagoons  overhung  by  lofty,  green  mountains,  with  the 
reef-riddled,  island-strewn  ocean  on  the  North,  has  deep, 
legendary  meaning  for  the  native.  Here  is  the  land  and  sea 
where  the  magically  inspired  sailors  and  heroes  of  the  dim  past 
performed  feats  of  daring  and  power.  As  we  sail  from  the 
entrance  into  Dawson  Straits,  through  Dobu  and  the  Amphletts 
to  Boyowa,  almost  every  new  configuration  of  the  land  which 
we  pass  is  the  scene  of  some  legendary  exploit.  Here  the 
narrow  gorge  has  been  broken  through  by  a  magic  canoe  flying 
in  the  air.  There  the  two  rocks  standing  in  the  sea  are  the 
petrified  bodies  of  two  mythological  heroes  who  were  stranded 
at  this  spot  after  a  quarrel.  Here  again,  a  land-locked  lagoon 
has  been  a  port  of  refuge  to  a  mythical  crew.  Apart  from  its 
legends,  the  scenery  before  us,  fine  as  it  is,  derives  still  more 
charm  from  the  knowledge  that  it  is,  and  has  been  a  distant 
Eldorado,  a  land  of  promise  and  hope  to  generation  after 
generation  of  really  daring  native  sailors  from  the  Northern 
islands.  And  in  the  past  these  lands  and  seas  must  have  been 
the  scene  of  migrations  and  fights,  of  tribal  invasions,  and  of 
gradual  infiltrations  of  peoples  and  cultures. 

In  personal  appearance,  the  Dobuans  have  a  very  distinct 
physique,  which  differentiates  them  sharply  from  the  Southern 
Massim  and  from  the  Trobrianders  ;  very  dark-skinned,  small 
of  stature,  with  big  heads  and  rounded  shoulders,  they  give  a 

*  My  knowledge  of  the  Dobuans  is  fragmentary,  derived  from  three  short 
visits  in  their  district,  from  conversation  with  several  Dobu  natives  whom  I 
had  in  my  service,  and  from  frequent  parallels  and  allusions  about  Dobuan 
customs,  which  are  met  when  doing  field-work  among  the  Southern  Trobrianders. 
There  is  a  short,  sketchy  account  of  certain  of  their  customs  and  beliefs  by  the 
Rev.  W.  E.  Bromilow,  first  missionary  in  Dobu,  which  I  have  also  consulted, 
in  the  records  of  the  Australasian  Association  for  the  Advancement  of  Science. 


THE  KULA  DISTRICT  41 

strange,  almost  gnome-like  impression  on  a  first  encounter. 
In  their  manner,  and  their  tribal  character,  there  is  something 
definitely  pleasant,  honest  and  open — an  impression  which 
long  acquaintance  with  them  confirms  and  strengthens.  They 
are  the  general  favourites  of  the  whites,  form  the  best  and 
most  reliable  servants,  and  traders  who  have  resided  long 
among  them  compare  them  favourably  with  other  natives. 

Their  villages,  like  those  of  the  previously  described  Massim, 
are  scattered  over  wide  areas.  The  fertile  and  flat  foreshores 
which  they  inhabit  are  studded  with  small,  compact  hamlets 
of  a  dozen  or  so  houses,  hidden  in  the  midst  of  one  continuous 
plantation  of  fruit  trees,  palms,  bananas  and  yams.  The 
houses  are  built  on  piles,  but  are  cruder  architecturally  than 
those  of  the  S.  Massim,  and  almost  without  any  decorations, 
though  in  the  olden  days  of  head-hunting  some  of  them  were 
ornamented  with  skulls. 

In  their  social  constitution,  the  people  are  totemic,  being 
divided  into  a  number  of  exogamous  clans  with  linked  totems. 
There  is  no  institution  of  regular  chieftainship,  nor  have  they 
any  system  of  rank  or  caste  such  as  we  shall  meet  in  the 
Trobriands.  Authority  is  vested  in  the  elders  of  the  tribe. 
In  each  hamlet  there  is  a  man  who  wields  the  greatest  influence 
locally,  and  acts  as  its  representative  on  such  tribal  councils 
as  may  arise  in  connection  with  ceremonies  and  expeditions. 

Their  system  of  kinship  is  matrilineal,  and  women  hold 
a  very  good  position,  and  wield  great  influence.  They  also 
seem  to  take  a  much  more  permanent  and  prominent  part 
in  tribal  life  than  is  the  case  among  the  neighbouring  popula- 
tions. There  is  notably  one  of  the  features  of  Dobuan  society, 
which  seems  to  strike  the  Trobrianders  as  peculiar,  and  to 
which  they  will  direct  attention  while  giving  information,  even 
although  in  the  Trobriands  also  women  have  a  good  enough 
social  position.  In  Dobu,  women  take  an  important  part  in 
gardening,  and  have  a  share  in  performing  garden  magic,  and 
this  in  itself  gives  them  a  high  status.  Again,  the  main 
instrument  for  wielding  power  and  inflicting  penalties  in  these 
lands,  sorcery,  is  to  a  great  extent  in  the  hands  of  women.  The 
flying  witches,  so  characteristic  of  the  Eastern  New  Guinea 
type  of  culture,  here  have  one  of  their  strongholds.  We  shall 
have  to  go  into  this  subject  more  in  detail  when  speaking 
about  shipwreck  and  the  dangers  of  sailing.  Besides  thi;, 


42  THE  KULA  DISTRICT 

women  practice  ordinary  sorcery,  which  in  other  tribes  is  only 
man's  prerogative. 

As  a  rule,  amongst  natives,  a  high  position  of  women  is 
associated  with  sex  laxity.  In  this,  Dobu  is  an  exception. 
Not  only  are  married  women  expected  to  remain  faithful, 
and  adultery  considered  a  great  crime,  but,  in  sharp  contrast 
to  all  surrounding  tribes,  the  unmarried  girls  of  Dobu  remain 
strictly  chaste.  There  are  no  ceremonial  or  customary  forms 
of  licence,  and  an  intrigue  would  be  certainly  regarded  as  an 
offence. 

A  few  more  words  must  be  said  here  about  sorcery,  as  this 
is  a  matter  of  great  importance  in  all  inter-tribal  relations. 
The  dread  of  sorcery  is  enormous,  and  when  the  natives  visit 
distant  parts,  this  dread  is  enhanced  by  the  additional  awe  of 
the  unknown  and  foreign.  Besides  the  flying  witches,  there 
are,  in  Dobu,  men  and  women  who,  by  their  knowledge  of 
magical  spells  and  rites,  can  inflict  disease  and  cause  death. 
The  methods  of  these  sorcerers,  and  all  the  beliefs  clustering 
round  this  subject  are  very  much  the  same  as  those  in  the 
Trobriands  which  we  shall  meet  later  on.  These  methods 
are  characterised  by  being  very  rational  and  direct,  and 
implying  hardly  any  supernatural  element.  The  sorcerer  has 
to  utter  a  spell  over  some  substance,  and  this  must  be  adminis- 
tered by  mouth,  or  else  burnt  over  the  fire  in  the  victim's 
hut.  The  pointing  stick  is  also  used  by  the  sorcerers  in 
certain  rites. 

If  his  methods  are  compared  with  those  used  by  flying 
witches,  who  eat  the  heart  and  lungs,  drink  the  blood,  snap 
the  bones  of  their  enemies,  and  moreover  possess  the  powers 
of  invisibility  and  of  flying,  the  Dobuan  sorcerer  seems  to  have 
but  simple  and  clumsy  means  at  his  disposal.  He  is  also  very 
much  behind  his  Mailu  or  Motu  namesakes — I  say  namesakes, 
because  sorcerers  throughout  the  Massim  are  called  Bara'u, 
and  the  same  word  is  used  in  Mailu,  while  the  Motu  use  the 
reduplicated  Babara'u.  The  magicians  in  these  parts  use 
such  powerful  methods  as  those  of  killing  the  victim  first, 
opening  up  the  body,  removing,  lacerating  or  charming  the 
inside,  then  bringing  the  victim  to  life  again,  only  that  he  may 
soon  sicken  and  eventually  die.* 

*  Professor  C.  G.  Seligman,  op.  cit,,  pp.  170  and  171 ;   187  and  188  about 
the  Koita  and  Motu  ;  and  B.  Malinowski,  The  Mailu,  pp.  647-652. 


THE  KULA  DISTRICT  43 

According  to  Dobuan  belief,  the  spirits  of  the  dead  go  to 
the  top  of  Mt.  Bwebweso  on  Normanby  Island.  This  confined 
space  harbours  the  shades  of  practically  all  the  natives  of  the 
d'Entrecasteaux  Archipelago,  except  those  of  Northern 
Goodenough  Island,  who,  as  I  was  told  by  some  local  informants, 
go  after  death  to  the  spirit  land  of  the  Trobrianders.*  The 
Dobuans  have  also  the  belief  in  a  double  soul — one,  shadowy 
and  impersonal,  surviving  the  bodily  death  for  a  few  days  only, 
and  remaining  in  the  vicinity  of  the  grave,  the  other  the  real 
spirit,  who  goes  to  Bwebweso. 

It  is  interesting  to  note  how  natives,  living  on  the  boundary 
between  two  cultures  and  between  two  types  of  belief,  regard 
the  ensuing  differences.  A  native  of,  say,  Southern  Boyowa, 
confronted  with  the  question  : — how  it  is  that  the  Dobuans 
place  spirit-land  on  Bwebweso,  whereas  they,  the  Trobrianders, 
place  it  in  Turn  a  ? — does  not  see  any  difficulty  in  solving  the 
problem.  He  does  not  regard  the  difference  as  due  to  a 
dogmatic  conflict  in  doctrine.  Quite  simply  he  answers  : — 
"  Their  dead  go  to  Bwebweso  and  ours  to  Tuma."  The  meta- 
physical laws  of  existence  are  not  yet  considered  subject  to 
one  invariable  truth.  As  human  destinies  in  life  change, 
according  to  varieties  in  tribal  custom,  so  also  the  doings  of 
the  spirit !  An  interesting  theory  is  evolved  to  harmonise 
the  two  beliefs  in  a  mixed  case.  There  is  a  belief  that  if  a 
Trobriander  were  to  die  in  Dobu,  when  on  a  Kula  expedition, 
he  would  go  for  a  time  to  Bwebweso.  In  due  season,  the  spirits 
of  the  Trobrianders  would  sail  from  Tuma,  the  spirit  land,  to 
Bwebweso,  on  a  spirit  Kula,  and  the  newly  departed  one 
would  join  their  party  and  sail  with  them  back  to  Tuma. 

On  leaving  Dobu,  we  sail  the  open  sea,  a  sea  studded  with 
coral  patches  and  sand-banks,  and  seamed  with  long  barrier 
reefs  where  treacherous  tides,  running  sometimes  as  much  as 
five  knots,  make  sailing  really  dangerous,  especially  for  helpless 
native  craft.  This  is  the  Kula  sea,  the  scene  of  the  inter-tribal 
expeditions  and  adventures  which  will  be  the  theme  of  our 
future  descriptions. 

The  Eastern  shore  of  Ferguson  Island,  near  Dobu,  along 
which  we  are  sailing,  consists  first  of  a  series  of  volcanic  cones 
and  capes,  giving  the  landscape  the  aspect  of  something 

*  Com  p.  D.  Jenness  and  A.  Ballantyne,  **  The  Northern  d'Entrecasteaux,*' 
Oxford,  1920,  Chapter  XII. 


44  THE  KULA  DISTRICT 

unfinished  and  crudely  put  together.  At  the  foot  of  the  hills 
there  stretches  for  several  miles  beyond  Dobu  a  broad  alluvial 
flat  covered  with  villages — Deide'i,  Tu'utauna,  Bwayowa,  all 
important  centres  of  trade,  and  the  homes  of  the  direct  Kula 
partners  of  the  Trobrianders.  Heavy  fumes  can  be  seen 
floating  above  the  jungle,  coming  from  the  hot  geysers  of 
Deide'i,  which  spurt  up  in  high  jets  every  few  minutes* 

Soon  we  come  abreast  of  two  characteristically  shaped, 
dark  rocks,  one  half  hidden  in  the  vegetation  of  the  shore,  the 
other  standing  in  the  sea  at  the  end  of  a  narrow  sand-spit 
dividing  the  two.  These  are  Atu'a'ine  and  Aturamo'a,  two 
men  turned  into  stone,  as  mythical  tradition  has  it.  Here 
the  big  sailing  expeditions,  those  starting  northwards  from 
Dobu,  as  well  as  those  arriving  from  the  North,  still  make  a 
halt — just  as  they  have  done  for  centuries,  and,  under 
observation  of  many  taboos,  give  sacrificial  offerings  to  the 
stones,  with  ritual  invocations  for  propitious  trade. 

In  the  lee  of  these  two  rocks,  runs  a  small  bay  with  a  clean, 
sandy  beach,  called  Sarubwoyna.  Here  a  visitor,  lucky  enough 
to  pass  at  the  right  moment  of  the  right  season  would  see  a 
picturesque  and  interesting  scene.  There  before  him  would 
lie  a  huge  fleet  of  some  fifty  to  a  hundred  canoes,  anchored 
in  the  shallow  water,  with  swarms  of  natives  upon  them,  all 
engaged  in  some  strange  and  mysterious  task.  Some  of  these, 
bent  over  heaps  of  herbs,  would  be  mumbling  incantations  ; 
others  would  be  painting  and  adorning  their  bodies.  An 
onlooker  of  two  generations  ago  coming  upon  the  same  scene 
would  no  doubt  have  been  led  to  suspect  that  he  was  watching 
the  preparations  for  some  dramatic  tribal  contest,  for  one  of 
those  big  onslaughts  in  which  the  existence  of  whole  villages 
and  tribes  were  wiped  out.  It  would  even  have  been  difficult 
for  him  to  discern  from  the  behaviour  of  the  natives  whether 
they  were  moved  more  by  fear  or  by  the  spirit  of  aggression, 
as  both  these  passions  might  have  been  read — and  correctly 
so — into  their  attitudes  and  movements.  That  the  scene 
contained  no  element  of  warfare  ;  that  this  fleet  had  come  here 
from  about  a  hundred  miles  sailing  distance  on  a  well  regulated 
tribal  visit ;  that  it  had  drawn  up  here  for  the  final  and  most 
important  preparations — this  would  not  have  been  an  easy 
guess  to  make.  Nowadays — for  this  is  carried  out  to  this 
da,y  with  undiminished  pomp — it  would  be  an  equally 


THE  KULA  DISTRICT  45 

picturesque,  but  of  course,  tamer  affair,  since  the  romance  of 
danger  has  gone  from  native  life.  As  we  learn  in  the  course 
of  this  study  to  know  more  about  these  natives,  their  general 
ways  and  customs,  and  more  especially  about  their  Kula  cycle 
of  beliefs,  ideas  and  sentiments,  we  shall  be  able  to  look  with 
understanding  eyes  upon  this  scene,  and  comprehend  this 
mixture  of  awe  with  intense,  almost  aggressive  eagerness 
and  this  behaviour,  which  appears  cowed  and  fierce  at  the 
same  time. 


Immediately  after  leaving  Sarubwoyna  and  rounding  the 
promontory  of  the  two  rocks,  we  come  in  sight  of  the  island  of 
Sanaroa ,  a  big,  sprawling,  coral  flat,  with  a  range  of  volcanic 
hills  on  its  western  side.  On  the  wide  lagoon  to  the  East  of 
this  island  are  the  fishing  grounds,  where  year  after  year  the 
Trobrianders,  returning  from  Dobu,  look  for  the  valuable 
spondylus  shell,  which,  after  their  arrival  home,  is  worked  into 
the  red  discs,  which  form  one  of  the  main  objects  of  native 
wealth.  In  the  North  of  Sanaroa  there  is  a  stone  in  one  of  the 
tidal  creeks  called  Sinatemubadiye'i,  once  a  woman,  the  sister 
of  Atu'a'ine  and  Aturamo'a,  who,  with  her  brothers  came  in 
here  and  was  petrified  before  the  last  stage  of  the  journey. 
She  also  receives  offerings  from  canoes,  coming  either  way  on 
Kula  expeditions. 

Sailing  further,  some  fine  scenery  unfolds  itself  on  our  left, 
where  the  high  mountain  range  comes  nearer  to  the  sea  shore, 
and  where  small  bays,  deep  valleys  and  wooded  slopes  succeed 
one  another.  By  carefully  scanning  the  slopes,  we  can  see 
small  batches  of  some  three  to  six  miserable  huts.  These  are 
the  dwellings  of  the  inhabitants,  who  are  of  a  distinctly  lower 
culture  than  the  Dobuans,  take  no  part  in  the  Kula,  and  in 
olden  days  were  the  cowed  and  unhappy  victims  of  their 
neighbours. 

On  our  right  there  emerge  behind  Sanaroa  the  islands  of 
Uwama  and  Tewara,  the  latter  inhabited  by  Dobuan  natives. 
Tewara  is  of  interest  to  us,  because  one  of  the  myths  which  we 
shall  get  to  know  later  on  makes  it  the  cradle  of  the  Kula.  As 
we  sail  on,  rounding  one  after  the  other  the  Eastern  promon- 
tories of  Fergusson  Island,  a  group  of  strongly  marked  monu- 
mental profiles  appears  far  on  the  horizon  from  behind  the 


46  THE  KULA  DISTRICT 

receding  headlands.  These  are  the  Amphlett  Islands,  the 
link,  both  geographically  and  culturally,  between  the  coastal 
tribes  of  the  volcanic  region  of  Dobu  and  the  inhabitants  of  the 
flat  coral  archipelago  of  the  Trobriands.  This  portion  of  the 
sea  is  very  picturesque,  and  has  a  charm  of  its  own  even  in 
this  land  of  fine  and  varied  scenery.  On  the  main  island  of 
Fergusson,  overlooking  the  Amphletts  from  the  South,  and 
ascending  straight  out  of  the  sea  in  a  slim  and  graceful  pyramid, 
lies  the  tall  mountain  of  Koyatabu,  the  highest  peak  on  the 
island.  Its  big,  green  surface  is  cut  in  half  by  the  white 
ribbon  of  a  watercourse,  starting  almost  half-way  up  and 
running  down  to  the  sea.  Scattered  under  the  lea  of  Koyatabu 
are  the  numerous  smaller  and  bigger  islands  of  the  Amphlett 
Archipelago — steep,  rpcky  hills,  shaped  into  pyramids,  sphynxes 
and  cupolas,  the  whole  a  strange  and  picturesque  assemblage 
of  characteristic  forms. 

With  a  strong  South-Easterly  wind,  which  blows  here  for 
three  quarters  of  the  year,  we  approach  the  islands  very  fast, 
and  the  two  most  important  ones,  Gumawana  and  Ome'a, 
almost  seem  to  leap  out  of  the  mist.  As  we  anchor  in  front  of 
Gumawana  village  at  the  S.E.  end  of  the  island,  we  cannot 
but  feel  impressed.  Built  on  a  narrow  strip  of  foreshore,  open 
to  the  breakers,  and  squeezed  down  to  the  water's  edge  by  an 
almost  precipitously  rising  jungle  at  its  back,  the  village  has 
been  made  sea-proof  by  walls  of  stone  surrounding  the  houses 
with  several  bulwarks,  and  by  stone  dykes  forming  small 
artificial  harbours  along  the  sea  front.  The  shabby  and 
unornamented  huts,  built  on  piles,  look  very  picturesque  in 
these  surroundings  (see  Plates  VII  and  XLIII). 

The  inhabitants  of  this  village,  and  of  the  four  remaining 
ones  in  the  archipelago,  are  a  queer  people.  They  are  a 
numerically  weak  tribe,  easily  assailable  from  the  sea,  getting 
hardly  enough  to  eat  from  their  rocky  islands  ;  and  yet,  through 
their  unique  skill  in  pottery,  their  great  daring  and  efficiency 
as  sailors,  and  their  central  position  half  way  between  Dobu 
and  the  Trobriands,  they  have  succeeded  in  becoming  in 
several  respects  the  monopolists  of  this  part  of  the  world. 
They  have  also  the  main  characteristics  of  monopolists : 
grasping  and  mean,  inhospitable  and  greedy,  keen  on  keeping 
the  trade  and  exchange  in  their  own  hands,  yet  unprepared  to 
make  any  sacrifice  towards  improving  it ;  shy,  yet  arrogant 


PLATE  VII 


IN  THE    AMPHLETTS 
The  sea-front  of  the  main  village  on  Gumasila  (or  Gumawana^ 


(See  Div.  V.) 


[face  p.  46 


THE  KULA  DISTRICT  47 

to  anyone  who  has  any  dealings  with  them  ;  they  contrast 
unfavourably  with  their  southern  and  northern  neighbours 
And  this  is  not  only  the  white  man's  impression.*  The 
Trobrianders,  as  well  as  the  Dobuans,  give  the  Amphlett  natives 
a  very  bad  name,  as  being  stingy  and  unfair  in  all  Kula 
transactions,  and  as  having  no  real  sense  of  generosity  and 
hospitality. 

When  our  boat  anchors  there,  the  natives  approach  it  in 
their  canoes,  offering  clay  pots  for  sale.  But  if  we  want  to  go 
ashore  and  have  a  look  at  their  village,  there  is  a  great  commo- 
tion, and  all  the  women  disappear  from  the  open  places.  The 
younger  ones  run  and  hide  in  the  jungle  behind  the  village, 
and  even  the  old  hags  conceal  themselves  in  the  houses.  So 
that  if  we  want  to  see  the  making  of  pottery,  which  is  almost 
exclusively  women's  work,  we  must  first  lure  some  old  woman 
out  of  her  retreat  with  generous  promises  of  tobacco  and 
assurances  of  honourable  intentions. 

This  has  been  mentioned  here,  because  it  is  of  ethnographic 
interest,  as  it  is  not  only  white  men  who  inspire  this  shyness  ; 
if  native  strangers,  coming  from  a  distance  for  trade,  put  in 
for  a  short  time  in  the  Amphletts,  the  women  also  disappear 
in  this  fashion.  This  very  ostentatious  coyness  is,  however, 
not  a  sham,  because  in  the  Amphletts,  even  more  than  in 
Dobu,  married  and  unmarried  life  is  characterised  by  strict 
chastity  and  fidelity.  Women  here  have  also  a  good  deal  of 
influence,  and  take  a  great  part  in  gardening  and  the  perform- 
ance of  garden  magic.  In  social  institutions  and  customs,  the 
natives  present  a  mixture  of  Northern  and  Southern  Massim 
elements.  There  are  no  chiefs,  but  influential  elders  wield 
authority,  and  in  each  village  there  is  a  head  man  who  takes 
the  lead  in  ceremonies  and  other  big  tribal  affairs.  Their 
totemir  clans  are  identical  with  those  of  Murua  (District  II). 
Their  somewhat  precarious  food  supply  comes  partly  from  the 
poor  gardens,  partly  from  fishing  with  kite  and  fish  trap,  which, 
however,  can  only  seldom  be  carried  out,  and  does  not  yield 
very  much.  They  are  not  self-supporting,  and  receive,  in 
form  of  presents  and  by  trade,  a  good  deal  of  vegetable  food 
as  well  as  pigs  from  the  mainland,  from  Dobu  and  the 

*  I  spent  about  a  month  in  these  islands,  and  found  the  natives  surpris- 
ingly intractable  and  difficult  to  work  with  ethnographicaliy.  The  Amphlett 
"  boys  "  are  renowned  as  good  boat-hands,  but  in  general  they  are  not  such 
capable  and  willing  workers  as  the  Dobuans. 


48  THE  KULA  DISTRICT 

Trobriands.  In  personal  appearance  they  are  very  much  like 
the  Trobrianders,  that  is,  taller  than  the  Dobuans,  lighter 
skinned,  and  with  finer  features. 

We  must  now  leave  the  Amphletts  and  proceed  to  the 
Trobriand  Islands,  the  scene  of  most  of  the  occurrences 
described  in  this  book,  and  the  country  concerning  which 
I  possess  by  far  the  largest  amount  of  ethnographic 
information. 


PLATE  VIII 


GROUP   OF    NATIVES    IN    THE   VILLAGE   OF   TUKWA'UKWA 

This  shows  the  type  of  coastal  village,  with  the  natives  squatting  round,  to 

illustrate  Div.  I 


[face  p.  48 


PLATE  IX 


MKN  OF  RANK   MiOM    KIRIWINA 
Tokulubakiki,  a  chiefs  son  ;  Towcsc'i  and  YobukwaX  of  the  highest  and  somewhat  inferior 

rank  respectively.     All  three  show  line  features  and   intelligent   expressions;    they  were 
among  tny  best  informants.    (Sec  Divs.  1  and  V.) 


PLATE  X 


I*; 


FISHERMEN  FROM   TBYAVA 
Types  of  commoners  from  a  Lagoon  village,     (Sec  Div.  I.) 


CHAPTER   II 
THE    NATIVES    OF    THE    TROBRIAND    ISLANDS 

I 

LEAVING  the  bronzed  rocks  and  the  dark  jungle  of  the 
Amphletts  for  the  present — for  we  shall  have  to  revisit  them 
in  the  course  of  our  study,  and  then  shall  learn  more  about 
their  inhabitants — we  sail  North  into  an  entirely  different 
world  of  flat  coral  islands  ;  into  an  ethnographic  district,  which 
stands  out  by  ever  so  many  peculiar  manners  and  customs 
from  the  rest  of  Papuo-Melanesia.  So  far,  we  have  sailed  over 
intensely  blue,  clear  seas,  where  in  shallow  places  the  coral 
bottom,  with  its  variety  of  colour  and  form,  with  its  wonderful 
plant  and  fish  life,  is  a  fascinating  spectacle  in  itself — a  sea 
framed  in  all  the  splendours  of  tropical  jungle,  of  volcanic  and 
mountainous  scenery,  with  lively  watercourses  and  falls,  with 
steamy  clouds  trailing  in  the  high  valleys.  From  all  this  we 
take  a  final  farewell  as  we  sail  North.  The  outlines  of  the 
Amphletts  soon  fade  away  in  tropical  haze,  till  only  Koyatabu's 
slender  pyramid,  lifted  over  them,  remains  on  the  horizon, 
the  graceful  form,  which  follows  us  even  as  far  as  the  Lagoon 
of  Kiriwina. 

We  now  enter  an  opaque,  greenish  sea,  whose  monotony  is 
broken  only  by  a  few  sandbanks,  some  bare  and  awash,  others 
with  a  few  pandanus  trees  squatting  on  their  air  roots,  high 
in  the  sand.  To  these  banks,  the  Amphlett  natives  come  and 
there  they  spend  weeks  on  end,  fishing  for  turtle  and  dugong. 
Here  is  also  laid  the  scene  of  several  of  the  mythical  incidents 
of  primeval  Kula.  Further  ahead,  through  the  misty  spray, 
the  line  of  horizon  thickens  here  and  there,  as  if  faint  pencil 
marks  had  been  drawn  upon  it.  These  become  more  substan- 
tial, one  of  them  lengthens  and  broadens,  the  others  spring 
into  the  distinct  shapes  of  small  islands,  and  we  find  ourselves 
in  the  big  Lagoon  of  the  Trobriands,  with  Boyowa,  the  largest 
island,  on  our  right,  and  with  many  others,  inhabited  and 
uninhabited,  to  the  North  and  North- West. 


TROBRIAND  LAGOON 
(WADQM 


SEA-ARM     OF  PILOLU 


— The  Trobriand  Archipelago,  also  called  Boyowa  or  Kiriwina. 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  51 

As  we  sail  in  the  Lagoon,  following  the  intricate  passages 
between  the  shallows,  and  as  we  approach  the  main  island,  the 
thick,  tangled  matting  of  the  low  jungle  breaks  here  and  there 
over  a  beach,  and  we  can  see  into  a  palm  grove,  like  an  interior, 
supported  by  pillars.  This  indicates  the  site  of  a  village. 
We  step  ashore  on  to  the  sea  front,  as  a  rule  covered  with  mud 
and  refuse,  with  canoes  drawn  up  high  and  dry,  and  passing 
through  the  grove,  we  enter  the  village  itself  (see  Plate  VIII). 

Soon  we  are  seated  on  one  of  the  platforms  built  in  front 
of  a  yam-house,  shaded  by  its  overhanging  roof.  The  round, 
grey  logs,  worn  smooth  by  contact  with  naked  feet  and  bodies  ; 
the  trodden  ground  of  the  village-street ;  the  brown  skins  of 
the  natives,  who  immediately  surround  the  visitor  in  large 
groups— all  these  form  a  colour  scheme  of  bronze  and  grey, 
unforgetable  to  anyone,  who,  like  myself,  has  lived  among 
these  people. 

It  is  difficult  to  convey  the  feelings  of  intense  interest  and 
suspense  with  which  an  Ethnographer  enters  for  the  first  time 
the  district  that  is  to  be  the  future  scene  of  his  field-work. 
Certain  salient  features,  characteristic  of  the  place,  at  once 
rivet  his  attention,  and  fill  him  with  hopes  or  apprehensions. 
The  appearance  of  the  natives,  their  manners,  their  types  of 
behaviour,  may  augur  well  or  ill  for  the  possibilities  of  rapid 
and  easy  research.  One  is  on  the  lookout  for  symptoms  of 
deeper,  sociological  facts,  one  suspects  many  hidden  and 
mysterious  ethnographic  phenomena  behind  the  commonplace 
aspect  of  things.  Perhaps  that  queer-looking,  intelligent 
native  is  a  renowned  sorcerer ;  perhaps  between  those  two 
groups  of  men  there  exists  some  important  rivalry  or  vendetta 
which  may  throw  much  light  on  the  customs  and  character  of 
the  people  if  one  can  only  lay  hands  upon  it  ?  Such  at  least 
were  /ny  thoughts  and  feelings  as  on  the  day  of  my  arrival 
in  Boyowa  I  sat  scanning  a  chatting  group  of  Trobriand  natives. 

The  great  variety  in  their  physical  appearance  is  what 
strikes  one  first  in  Boyowa.*  There  are  men  and  women  of 
tall  stature,  fine  bearing,  and  delicate  features,  with  clear-cut 
aquiline  profile  and  high  foreheads,  well  formed  nose  and  chin, 

*  Already  Dr.  C.  G.  Seligman  has  noticed  that  there  are  people  of  an 
outstanding  fine  physical  type  among  the  Northern  Massim,  of  whom  the 
Trobrianders  form  the  Western  section,  people  who  are  "  generally  taller  (often 
very  notably  so)  than  the  individuals  of  the  short-faced,  broad-nosed  type, 
in  whom  the  bridge  of  the  nose  is  very  low."  Op.  cit.,  p.  8. 


52  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

and  an  open,  intelligent  expression  (see  Plates  IX,  XV,  XVII). 
And  besides  these,  there  are  others  with  prognatic,  negroid 
faces,  broad,  thick-lipped  mouths,  narrow  foreheads,  and  a 
coarse  expression  (see  Plates  X,  XI,  XII).  The  better 
featured  have  also  a  markedly  lighter  skin.  Even  their  hair 
differs,  varying  from  quite  straight  locks  to  the  frizzly  mop  of 
the  typical  Melanesian.  They  wear  the  same  classes  of 
ornaments  as  the  other  Massim,  consisting  mainly  of  fibre 
armlets  and  belts,  earrings  cf  turtle  shell  and  spondylus  discs, 
and  they  are  very  fond  of  using,  for  personal  decoration,  flowers 
and  aromatic  herbs.  In  manner  they  are  much  freer,  more 
familiar  and  confident,  than  any  of  the  natives  we  have  so  far 
met.  As  soon  as  an  interesting  stranger  arrives,  half  the 
village  assembles  around  him,  talking  loudly  and  making 
remarks  about  him,  frequently  uncomplimentary,  and  alto- 
gether assuming  a  tone  of  jocular  familiarity. 

One  of  the  main  sociological  features  at  once  strikes  an 
observant  newcomer — -the  existence  of  rank  and  social  differ- 
entiation. Some  of  the  natives — very  frequently  those  of  the 
finer  looking  type — are  treated  with  most  marked  deference  by 
others,  and  in  return,  these  chiefs  and  persons  of  rank  behave 
in  quite  a  different  way  towards  the  strangers.  In  fact,  they 
show  excellent  manners  in  the  full  meaning  of  this  word. 

When  a  chief  is  present,  no  commoner  dares  to  remain  in 
a  physically  higher  position  ;  he  has  to  bend  his  body  or  squat. 
Similarly,  when  the  chief  sits  down,  no  one  would  dare  to 
stand.  The  institution  of  definite  chieftainship,  to  which  are 
shown  such  extreme  marks  of  deference,  with  a  sort  of  rudi- 
mentary Court  ceremonial,  with  insignia  of  rank  and  authority, 
is  so  entirely  foreign  to  the  whole  spirit  of  Melanesian  tribal 
life,  that  at  first  sight  it  transports  the  Ethnographer  into  a 
different  world.  In  the  course  of  our  inquiry,  we  shall  con- 
stantly meet  with  manifestation  of  the  Kiriwinian  chief's 
authority,  we  shall  notice  the  difference  in  this  respect  between 
the  Trobrianders  and  the  other  tribes,  and  the  resulting 
adjustments  of  tribal  usage. 

II 

Another  sociological  feature,  which  forcibly  obtrudes  itself 
on  the  visitor's  notice  is  the  social  position  of  the  women. 
Their  behaviour,  after  the  cool  aloofness  of  the  Dobuan  women, 


A  TYPICAL  NAKUBUKWABUYA 
(UNMARRIED   WOMAN) 

This  shows  the  coarse,  though  fine-looking,  type  of  a  commoner  woman. 
(See  Div.  II.) 


PLATE  XII 


BOYOWAN    GIRLS 

Such  facial  painting  and  decorations  are  used  when  they  go  on  a  katuyausi 
expedition.     (See  Div,  II.) 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  53 

and  the  very  uninviting  treatment  which  strangers  receive 
from  those  of  the  Amphletts,  comes  almost  as  a  shock  in  its 
friendly  familiarity.  Naturally,  here  also,  the  manners  of 
women  of  rank  are  quite  different  from  those  of  low  class 
commoners.  But,  on  the  whole,  high  and  low  alike,  though  by 
no  means  reserved,  have  a  genial,  pleasant  approach,  and  many 
of  them  are  very  fine-looking  (see  Plates  XI,  XII).  Their 
dress  is  also  different  from  any  so  far  observed.  All  the 
Melanesian  women  in  New  Guinea  wear  a  petticoat  made  of 
fibre.  Among  the  Southern  Massim,  this  fibre  skirt  is  long, 
reaching  to  the  knees  or  below,  whereas  in  the  Trobriands  it 
is  much  shorter  and  fuller,  consisting  of  several  layers  standing 
out  round  the  body  like  a  ruff  (compare  the  S.  Massim  women 
on  Plates  V  and  VI  with  the  Trobrianders  on  Plate  IV). 
The  highly  ornamental  effect  of  that  dress  is  enhanced  by  the 
elaborate  decorations  made  in  three  colours  on  the  several 
layers  forming  the  top  skirt.  On  the  whole,  it  is  very  becoming 
to  fine  young  women,  and  gives  to  small  slender  girls  a  graceful, 
elfish  appearance. 

Chastity  is  an  unknown  virtue  among  these  natives.  At 
an  incredibly  early  age  they  become  initiated  into  sexual  life, 
and  many  of  the  innocent  looking  plays  of  childhood  are  not 
as  innocuous  as  they  appear.  As  they  grow  up,  they  live  in 
promiscuous  free-love,  which  gradually  develops  into  more 
permanent  attachments,  one  of  which  ends  in  marriage.  But 
before  this  is  reached,  unmarried  girls  are  openly  supposed  to 
be  quite  free  to  do  what  they  like,  and  there  are  even  cere- 
monial arrangements  by  which  the  girls  of  a  village  repair  in 
a  body  to  another  place  ;  there  they  publicly  range  themselves 
for  inspection,  and  each  is  chosen  by  a  local  boy,  with  whom 
she  spends  a  night.  This  is  called  katuyausi  (see  Plate  XII). 
Again,  when  a  visiting  party  arrives  from  another  district, 
food  is  brought  to  them  by  the  unmarried  girls,  who  are  also 
expected  to  satisfy  their  sexual  wants.  At  the  big  mortuary 
vigils  round  the  corpse  of  a  newly  deceased  person,  people 
from  neighbouring  villages  come  in  large  bodies  to  take  part 
in  the  wailing  and  singing.  The  girls  of  the  visiting  party  are 
expected  by  usage  to  comfort  the  boys  of  the  bereaved  village, 
in  a  manner  which  gives  much  anguish  to  their  official  lovers. 
There  is  another  remarkable  form  of  ceremonial  licence,  in 
which  indeed  women  are  openly  the  initiators.  During  the 


54  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

gardening  season,  at  the  time  of  weeding,  the  women  do 
communal  work,  and  any  strange  man  who  ventures  to  pass 
through  the  district  runs  a  considerable  risk,  for  the  women 
will  run  after  him,  seize  him,  tear  off  his  pubic  leaf,  and  ill- 
treat  him  orgiastically  in  the  most  ignominous  manner.  Side 
by  side  with  these  ceremonial  forms  of  licence,  there  go,  in  the 
normal  course  of  events,  constant  private  intrigues,  more 
intense  during  the  festive  seasons,  becoming  less  prominent  as 
garden  work,  trading  expeditions,  or  harvesting  take  up  the 
energies  and  attention  of  the  tribe. 

Marriage  is  associated  with  hardly  any  public  or  private 
rite  or  ceremony.  The  woman  simply  joins  her  husband  in  his 
house,  and  later  on,  there  is  a  series  of  exchanges  of  gifts,  which 
in  no  way  can  be  interpreted  as  purchase  money  for  the  wife. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  most  important  feature  of  the  Trobriand 
marriage  is  the  fact  that  the  wife's  family  have  to  -ontribute, 
and  that  in  a  very  substantial  manner,  to  the  economics  of  her 
household,  and  also  they  have  to  perform  all  sorts  of  services 
for  the  husband.  In  her  married  life,  the  woman  is  supposed 
to  remain  faithful  to  her  husband,  but  this  rule  is  neither  very 
strictly  kept  nor  enforced.  In  all  other  ways,  she  retains  a 
great  measure  of  independence,  and  her  husband  has  to  treat 
her  well  and  with  consideration.  If  he  does  not,  the  woman 
simply  leaves  him  and  returns  to  her  family,  and  as  the  husband 
is  as  a  rule  economically  the  loser  by  her  action,  he  has  to  exert 
himself  to  get  her  back — which  he  does  by  means  of  presents 
and  persuasions.  If  she  chooses,  she  can  leave  him  for  good, 
and  she  can  always  find  someone  else  to  marry. 

In  tribal  life,  the  position  of  women  is  also  very  high.  They 
do  not  as  a  rule  join  the  councils- of  men,  but  in  many  matters 
they  have  their  own  way,  and  control  several  aspects  of  tribal 
life.  Thus,  some  of  the  garden  work  is  their  business  ;  and 
this  is  considered  a  privilege  as  well  as  a  duty.  They  also  look 
after  certain  stages  in  the  big,  ceremonial  divisions  of  food, 
associated  with  the  very  complete  and  elaborate  mortuary 
ritual  of  the  Boyowans  (see  Plate  IV).  Certain  forms  of 
magic — that  performed  over  a  first-born  baby,  beauty-magic 
made  at  tribal  ceremonies,  some  classes  of  sorcery — are  also 
the  monopoly  of  women.  Women  of  rank  share  the 
privileges  incidental  to  it,  and  men  of  low  caste  will  bend  before 
them  and  observe  all  the  necessary  formalities  and  taboos  due 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  55 

to  a  chief.  A  woman  of  chief's  rank,  married  to  commoner, 
retains  her  status,  even  with  regard  to  her  husband,  and  has 
to  be  treated  accordingly. 

The  Trobrianders  are  matrilineal,  that  is,  in  tracing  descent 
and  settling  inheritance,  they  follow  the  maternal  line.  A 
child  belongs  to  the  clan  and  village  community  of  its  mother, 
and  wealth,  as  well  as  social  position,  arc  inherited,  not  from 
father  to  son,  but  from  maternal  uncle  to  nephew.  This  rule 
admits  of  certain  important  and  interesting  exceptions,  which 
we  shall  come  across  in  the  course  of  this  study. 

Ill 

Returning  to  our  imaginary  first  visit  ashore,  the  next 
interesting  thing  to  do,  after  we  have  sufficiently  taken  in  the 
appearance  and  manners  of  the  natives,  is  to  walk  round  the 
village.  Li  doing  this,  again  we  would  come  across  much,  which 
to  a  trained  eye,  would  reveal  at  once  deeper  sociological  facts. 
In  the  Trobriands  however,  it  would  be  better  to  make  our 
first  observations  in  one  of  the  large,  inland  villages,  situated 
on  even,  flat  ground  with  plenty  of  space,  so  that  it  has  been 
possible  to  build  it  in  the  typical  pattern.  In  the  coastal 
villages,  placed  on  marshy  ground  and  coral  outcrop,  the 
irregularity  of  the  soil  and  cramped  space  have  obliterated 
the  design,  and  they  present  quite  a  chaotic  appearance.  The 
big  villages  of  the  central  districts,  on  the  other  hands,  are 
built  one  and  all  with  an  almost  geometrical  regularity. 

In  the  middle,  a  big  circular  space  is  surrounded  by  a  ring 
of  yam  houses.  These  latter  are  built  on  piles,  and  present  a 
fine,  decorative  front,  with  walls  of  big,  round  logs,  laid  cross- 
wise on  one  another,  so  as  to  leave  wide  interstices  through 
which  the  stored  yams  can  be  seen  (see  Plates  XV,  XXXII, 
XXXIII).  Some  of  the  store-houses  strike  us  at  once  as 
being  better  built,  larger,  and  higher  than  the  rest,  and  these 
have  also  big,  ornamented  boards,  running  round  the  gable 
and  across  it.  These  are  the  yam  houses  of  the  chief  or  of 
persons  of  rank.  Each  yam  house  also  has,  as  a  rule,  a  small 
platform  in  front  of  it,  on  which  groups  of  men  will  sit  and 
chat  in  the  evening,  and  where  visitors  can  rest. 

Concentrically  with  the  circular  row  of  yam  houses,  there 
runs  a  ring  of  dwelling  huts,  and  thus  a  street  going  all  round 
the  village  is  formed  between  the  two  rows  (see  Plates  III,  IV, 


56  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

VIII).  The  dwellings  are  lower  than  the  yam  houses,  and 
instead  of  being  on  piles,  are  built  directly  on  the  ground. 
The  interior  is  dark  and  very  stuffy,  and  the  only  opening  into 
it  is  through  the  door,  and  that  is  usually  closed.  Each  hut  is 
occupied  by  one  family  (see  Plate  XV),  that  is,  husband,  wife 
and  small  children,  while  adolescent  and  grown-up  boys  and 
girls  live  in  separate  small  bachelor's  houses,  harbouring  sgme 
two  to  six  inmates.  Chiefs  and  people  of  rank  have  their 
special,  personal  houses,  besides  those  of  their  wives.  The 
Chief's  house  often  stands  in  the  central  ring  of  the  store-houses 
facing  the  main  place. 

The  broad  inspection  of  the  village  would  therefore  reveal 
to  us  the  role  of  decoration  as  insignia  of  rank,  the  existence  of 
bachelors'  and  spinsters'  houses,  the  great  importance  attached 
to  the  yam-harvest — all  these  small  symptoms  which,  followed 
up,  would  lead  us  deep  into  the  problems  of  native  sociology. 
Moreover,  such  an  inspection  would  have  led  us  to  inquire  as 
to  the  part  played  by  the  different  divisions  of  the  village  in 
tribal  life.  We  should  then  learn  that  the  baku,  the  central 
circular  space,  is  the  scene  of  public  ceremonies  and  festivities, 
such  as  dancing  (see  Plates  XIII,  XIV),  division  of  food, 
tribal  feasts,  mortuary  vigils,  in  short,  of  all  doings  that 
represent  the  village  as  a  whole.  In  the  circular  street  between 
the  stores  and  living  houses,  everyday  life  goes  on,  that  is,  the 
preparation  of  food,  the  eating  of  meals,  and  the  usual  exchange 
of  gossip  and  ordinary  social  amenities.  The  interior  of  the 
houses  is  only  used  at  night,  or  on  wet  days,  and  is  more  a 
sleeping  than  a  living  room.  The  backs  of  the  houses  and  the 
contiguous  groves  are  the  scene  of  the  children's  play  and  the 
women's  occupations  Further  away,  remote  parts  of  the 
grove  are  reserved  for  sanitary  purposes,  each  sex  having  its 
own  retreat. 

The  baku  (central  place)  is  the  most  picturesque  part,  and 
there  the  somewhat  monotonous  colour  scheme  of  the  brown 
and  grey  is  broken  by  the  overhanging  foliage  of  the  grove, 
seen  above  the  neat  fronts  and  gaudy  ornamentation  of  the 
yam-houses  and  by  the  decorations  worn  by  the  crowd  when  a 
dance  or  ceremony  is  taking  place  (see  Plates  XIII,  XXXIII). 
Dancing  is  done  only  at  one  time  in  the  year,  in  connection 
with  the  harvest  festivities,  called  milamala,  at  which  season 
also  the  spirits  of  the  dead  return  from  Tuma,  the  nether-world, 


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THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  57 

to  the  villages  from  which  they  hail.  Sometimes  the  dancing 
season  lasts  only  for  a  few  weeks  or  even  days,  sometimes  it 
is  extended  into  a  special  dancing  period  called  usigola.  During 
such  a  time  of  festivities,  the  inhabitants  of  a  village  will  dance 
day  after  day,  for  a  month  or  longer,  the  period  being  inaugurated 
by  a  feast,  punctuated  by  several  more,  and  ending  in  a  big 
culminating  performance.  At  this  many  villages  assist  as 
spectators,  and  distributions  of  food  take  place.  During  an 
usigola,  dancing  is  done  in  full  dress,  that  is,  with  facial  painting, 
floral  decorations,  valuable  ornaments,  and  a  head-dress  ot 
white  cockatoo  feathers  (see  Plates  XIII,  XIV).  A  perform- 
mance  consists  always  of  a  dance  executed  in  a  ring  to  the 
accompaniment  of  singing  and  drum-beating,  both  of  which 
are  done  by  a  group  of  people  standing  in  the  middle.  Some 
dances  are  done  with  the  carved  dancing  shield. 

Sociologically,  the  village  is  an  important  unit  in  the 
Trobriands.  Even  the  mightiest  chief  in  the  Trobriands 
wields  his  authority  primarily  over  his  own  village  and  only 
secondarily  over  the  district  The  village  community  exploit 
jointly  their  garden  lands,  perform  ceremonies,  wage  warfare, 
undertake  trading  expeditions,  and  sail  in  the  same  canoe  or 
fleet  of  canoes  as  one  group. 

After  the  first  inspection  of  the  village,  we  would  be 
naturally  interested  to  know  more  of  the  surrounding  country, 
and  would  take  a  walk  through  the  bush.  Here,  however,  if 
we  hoped  for  a  picturesque  and  varied  landscape,  we  should 
receive  a  great  disappointment.  The  extensive,  flat  island 
consists  only  of  one  fertile  plain,  with  a  low  coral  ridge  running 
along  portions  of  the  coast.  It  is  almost  entirely  under  inter- 
mittent cultivation,  and  the  bush,  regularly  cleared  away 
every  few  years,  has  no  time  to  grow  high.  A  low,  dense 
jungle  grows  in  a  matted  tangle,  and  practically  wherever 
we  move-on  the  island  we  walk  along  between  two  green  walls, 
presenting  no  variety,  allowing  of  no  broader  view.  The 
monotony  is  broken  only  by  an  occasional  clump  of  old  trees 
left  standing — usually  a  tabooed  place — or  by  one  of  the 
numerous  villages  which  we  meet  with  every  mile  or  two  in 
this  densely  populated  country.  The  main  element,  both  of 
picturesqueness  and  ethnographic  interest,  is  afforded  by  the 
native  gardens.  Each  year  about  one  quarter  or  one  fifth  of 
the  total  area  is  under  actual  cultivation  as  gardens,  and  these 


58  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

are  well  tended,  and  present  a  pleasant  change  from  the 
monotony  of  the  scrub.  In  its  early  stages,  the  garden  site 
is  simply  a  bare,  cleared  space,  allowing  of  a  wider  outlook 
upon  the  distant  coral  ridge  in  the  East,  and  upon  the  tall 
groves,  scattered  over  the  horizon,  which  indicate  villages  or 
tabooed  tree  clumps.  Later  on,  when  the  yam-vines,  taro, 
and  sugar  cane  begin  to  grow  and  bud,  the  bare  brown  -  soil 
is  covered  with  the  fresh  green  of  the  tender  plants.  After 
some  more  time  still,  tall,  stout  poles  are  planted  over  each 
yam-plant ;  the  vine  climbs  round  them,  grows  into  a  full, 
shady  garland  of  foliage,  and  the  whole  makes  the  impression 
of  a  large,  exuberant  hop-yard. 

IV 

Half  of  the  natives'  working  life  is  spent  in  the  garden, 
and  around  it  centres  perhaps  more  than  half  of  his  interests 
and  ambitions.  And  here  we  must  pause  and  make  an  attempt 
to  understand  his  attitude  in  this  matter,  as  it  is  typical  of  the 
way  in  which  he  goes  about  all  his  work.  If  we  remain  under 
the  delusion  that  the  native  is  a  happy-go-lucky,  lazy  child  of 
nature,  who  shuns  as  far  as  possible  all  labour  and  effort,  waiting 
till  the  ripe  fruits,  so  bountifully  supplied  by  generous  tropical 
Nature,  fall  into  his  mouth,  we  shall  not  be  able  to  understand 
in  the  least  his  aims  and  motives  in  carrying  out  the  Kula  or 
any  other  enterprise.  On  the  contrary,  the  truth  is  that  the 
native  can  and,  under  circumstances,  does  work  hard,  and 
work  systematically,  with  endurance  and  purpose,  nor  does  he 
wait  till  he  is  pressed  to  work  by  his  immediate  needs. 

In  gardening,  for  instance,  the  natives  produce  much  more 
than  they  actually  require,  and  in  any  average  year  they 
harvest  perhaps  twice  as  much  as  they  can  eat.  Nowadays, 
this  surplus  is  exported  by  Europeans  to  feed  plantation  hands 
in  other  parts  of  New  Guinea ;  in  olden  days  it  was  simply 
allowed  to  rot.  Again,  they  produce  this  surplus  in  a  manner 
which  entails  much  more  work  than  is  strictly  necessary  for 
obtaining  the  crops.  Much  time  and  labour  is  given  up  to 
aesthetic  purposes,  to  making  the  gardens  tidy,  clean,  cleared  of 
all  debris  ;  to  building  fine,  solid,  fences,  to  providing  specially 
strong  and  big  yam-poles.  All  these  things  are  to  some 
extent  required  for  the  growth  of  the  plant ;  but  there  can  be 
no  doubt  that  the  natives  push  their  conscientiousness  far 


THE  TROBRIAND^  ISLANDS  59 

beyond  the  limit  of  the  purely  necessary.  The  non-utilitarian 
element  in  their  garden  work  is  still  more  clearly  perceptible 
in  the  various  tasks  which  they  carry  out  entirely  for  the  sake 
of  ornamentation,  in  connection  with  magical  ceremonies,  and 
in  obedience  to  tribal  usage.  Thus,  after  the  ground  has  been 
scrupulously  cleared  and  is  ready  for  planting,  the  natives 
divide  each  garden  plot  into  small  squares,  each  a  few  yards 
in  length  and  width,  and  this  is  done  only  in  obedience  to  usage, 
in  order  to  make  the  gardens  look  neat.  No  self-respecting  man 
would  dream  of  omitting  to  do  this.  Again,  in  especially  well 
trimmed  gardens,  long  horizontal  poles  are  tied  to  the  yam 
supports  in  order  to  embellish  them.  Another,  and  perhaps 
the  most  interesting  example  of  non-utilitarian  work  is  afforded 
by  the  big,  prismatic  erections  called  kamkokola,  which  serve 
ornamental  and  magical  purposes,  but  have  nothing  to  do  with 
the  growth  of  plants  (comp.  Plate  LIX). 

Among  the  forces  and  beliefs  which  bear  upon  and  regulate 
garden  work,  perhaps  magic  is  the  most  important.  It  is  a 
department  of  its  own,  and  the  garden  magician,  next  to  the 
chief  and  the  sorcerer,  is  the  most  important  personage  of  the 
village.  The  position  is  hereditary,  and,  in  each  village,  a 
special  system  of  magic  is  handed  on  in  the  female  line  from 
one  generation  to  another.  I  have  called  it  a  system,  because 
the  magician  has  to  perform  a  series  of  rites  and  spells  over  the 
garden,  which  run  parallel  with  the  labour,  and  which,  in  fact, 
initiate  each  stage  of  the  work  and  each  new  development  of 
the  plant  life\  Even  before  any  gardening  is  begun  at  all, 
the  magician  has  to  consecrate  the  site  with  a  big  ceremonial 
performance  in  which  all  the  men  of  the  village  take  part. 
This  ceremony  officially  opens  the  season's  gardening,  and 
only  after  it  is  performed  do  the  villagers  begin  to  cut  the 
scrub  on  their  plots.  Then,  in  a  series  of  rites,  the  magician 
inaugurates  successively  all  the  various  stages  which  follow  one 
another — the  burning  of  the  scrub,  the  clearing,  the  planting, 
the  weeding  and  the  harvesting.  Also,  in  another  series  of 
rites  and  spells,  he  magically  assists  the  plant  in  sprouting,  in 
budding,  in  bursting  into  leaf,  in  climbing,  in  forming  the  rich 
garlands  of  foliage,  and  in  producing  the  edible  tubers. 

The  garden  magician,  according  to  native  ideas,  thus 
controls  both  the  work  of  man  and  the  forces  of  Nature.  He 
also  acts  directly  as  supervisor  of  gardening,  sees  to  it  that 


60  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

people  do  not  skimp  their  work,  or  lag  behind  with  it.  Thus 
magic  is  a  systematising,  regulating,  and  controlling  influence 
in  garden  work.  The  magician,  in  carrying  out  the  rites,  sets 
the  pace,  compels  people  to  apply  themselves  to  certain  tasks, 
and  to  accomplish  them  properly  and  in  time.  Incidentally, 
magic  also  imposes  on  the  tribe  a  good  deal  of  extra  work,  of 
apparently  unnecessary,  hampering  taboos  and  regulations. 
In  the  long  run,  however,  there  is  no  doubt  that  by  its  influence 
in  ordering,  systematising  and  regulating  work,  magic  is 
economically  invaluable  for  the  natives.* 

Another  notion  which  must  be  exploded,  once  and  for  ever, 
is  that  of  the  Primitive  Economic  Man  of  some  current  economic 
text  books.  This  fanciful,  dummy  creature,  who  has  been  very 
tenacious  of  existence  in  popular  and  semi-popular  economic 
literature,  and  whose  shadow  haunts  even  the  minds  of  compe- 
tent anthropologists,  blighting  their  outlook  with  a  pre- 
conceived idea,  is  an  imaginary,  primitive  man,  or  savage, 
prompted  in  all  his  actions  by  a  rationalistic  conception  of 
self-interest,  and  achieving  his  aims  directly  and  with  the 
minimum  of  effort.  Even  one  well  established  instance  should 
show  how  preposterous  is  this  assumption  that  man,  and 
especially  man  on  a  low  level  of  culture,  should  be  actuated 
by  pure  economic  motives  of  enlightened  self-interest.  The 
primitive  Trobriander  furnishes  us  with  such  an  instance, 
contradicting  this  fallacious  theory.  He  works  prompted  by 
motives  of  a  highly  complex,  social  and  traditional  nature, 
and  towards  aims  which  are  certainly  not  directed  towards 
the  satisfaction  of  present  wants,  or  to  the  direct  achievement 
of  utilitarian  purposes.  Thus,  in  the  first  place,  as  we  have 
seen,  work  is  not  carried  out  on  the  principle  of  the  least 
effort.  On  the  contrary,  much  time  and  energy  is  spent  on 
wholly  unnecessary  effort,  that  is,  from  a  utilitarian  point  of 
view.  Again,  work  and  effort,  instead  of  being  merely  a  means 
to  an  end,  are,  in  a  way  an  end  in  themselves.  A  good  garden 
worker  in  the  Trobriands  derives  a  direct  prestige  from  the 
amount  of  labour  he  can  do,  and  the  size  of  garden  he  can  till. 
The  title  tokwaybagula,  which  means  "  good  "  or  "  efficient 
gardener,"  is  bestowed  with  discrimination,  and  borne  with 
pride.  Several  of  my  friends,  renowned  as  tokwaybagula , 

*  I  have  dealt  with  the  subject  of  garden  work  in  the  Trobriands  and 
with  its  economic  importance  more  fully  in  an  article  entitled  "  The  Primitive 
Economics  of  the  Trobriand  Islanders  "  in  The  Economic  Journal,  March,  1921. 


THE  TROBR1AND  ISLANDS  61 

would  boast  to  me  how  long  they  worked,  how  much  ground 
they  tilled,  and  would  compare  their  efforts  with  those  of  less 
efficient  men.  When  the  labour,  some  of  which  is  done  commun- 
ally, is  being  actually  carried  out,  a  good  deal  of  competition 
goes  on.  Men  vie  with  one  another  in  their  speed,  in  their 
thoroughness,  and  in  the  weights  they  can  lift,  when  bringing 
big  poles  to  the  garden,  or  in  carrying  away  the  harvested  yams. 

The  most  important  point  about  this  is,  however,  that  all, 
or  almost  all  the  fruits  of  his  work,  and  certainly  any  surplus 
which  he  can  achieve  by  extra  effort,  goes  not  to  the  man 
hirnseli,  but  to  his  relatives-in-law.  Without  entering  into 
details  of  the  system  of  the  apportionment  of  the  harvest,  of 
which  the  sociology  is  rather  complex  and  would  require  a 
preliminary  account  of  the  Trobriand  kinship  system  and 
kinship  ideas,  it  may  be  said  that  about  three  quarters  of  a 
man's  crops  go  partly  as  tribute  to  the  chief,  partly  as  his  due 
to  his  sister's  (or  mother's)  husband  and  family. 

But  although  he  thus  derives  practically  no  personal 
benefit  in  the  utilitarian  sense  from  his  harvest,  the  gardener 
receives  much  praise  and  renown  from  its  size  and  quality,  and 
that  in  a  direct  and  circumstantial  manner.  For  all  the  crops, 
after  being  harvested,  are  displayed  for  some  time  afterwards 
in  the  gardens,  piled  up  in  neat,  conical  heaps  under  small 
shelters  made  of  yam  vine.  Each  man's  harvest  is  thus 
exhibited  for  criticism  in  his  own  plot,  and  parties  of  natives 
walk  about  from  garden  to  garden,  admiring,  comparing  and 
praising  the  best  results.  The  importance  of  the  food  display 
can  be  gauged  by  the  fact  that,  in  olden  days,  when  the  chief's 
power  was  much  more  considerable  than  now,  it  was  dangerous 
for  a  man  who  was  not  either  of  high  rank  himself,  or  working 
for  such  a  one,  to  show  crops  which  might  compare  too  favour- 
ably with  those  of  the  chief. 

In  years  when  the  harvest  promises  to  be  plentiful,  the 
chief  will  proclaim  a  kayasa  harvest,  that  is  to  say,  ceremonial, 
competitive  display  of  food,  and  then  the  straining  for  good 
results  and  the  interest  taken  in  them  are  still  higher.  We 
shall  meet  later  on  with  ceremonial  enterprises  of  the  kayasa 
type,  and  find  that  they  play  a  considerable  part  in  the  Kula. 
All  this  shows  how  entirely  the  real  native  of  flesh  and  bone 
differs  from  the  shadowy  Primitive  Economic  Man,  on  whose 
imaginary  behaviour  many  of  the  scholastic  deductions  of 


62  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

abstract  economics  are  based.*  The  Trobriander  works  in  a 
roundabout  way,  to  a  large  extent  for  the  sake  of  the  work 
itself,  and  puts  a  great  deal  of  aesthetic  polish  on  the  arrange- 
ment and  general  appearance  of  his  garden.  He  is  not  guided 
primarily  by  the  desire  to  satisfy  his  wants,  but  by  a  very 
complex  set  of  traditional  forces,  duties  and  obligations,  beliefs 
in  magic,  social  ambitions  and  vanities.  He  wants,  if  he*  is  a 
man,  to  achieve  social  distinction  as  a  good  gardener  and  a  good 
worker  in  general. 

I  have  dwelt  at  this  length  upon  these  points  concerning  the 
motives  and  aims  of  the  Trobrianders  in  their  garden  work, 
because,  in  the  chapters  that  follow,  we  shall  be  studying 
economic  activities,  and  the  reader  will  grasp  the  attitude  of 
the  natives  best  if  he  has  it  illustrated  to  him  by  various 
examples.  All  that  has  been  said  in  this  matter  about  the 
Trobrianders  applies  also  to  the  neighbouring  tribes. 


With  the  help  of  this  new  insight  gained  into  the  mind  of 
the  native,  and  into  their  social  scheme  of  harvest  distribution, 
it  will  be  easier  to  describe  the  nature  of  the  chief's  authority. 
Chieftainship  in  the  Trobriands  is  the  combination  of  two 
institutions  :  first,  that  of  headmanship,  or  village  authority  ; 
secondly,  that  of  totemic  clanship,  that  is  the  division  of  the 
community  into  classes  or  castes,  each  with  a  certain  more  or 
less  definite  rank. 

In  every  community  in  the  Trobriands,  there  is  one  man 
who  wields  the  greatest  authority,  though  often  this  does  not 
amount  to  very  much.  He  is,  in  many  cases,  nothing  more  than 
the  primus  inter  pares  in  a  group  of  village  elders,  who  deliberate 
on  all  important  matters  together,  and  arrive  at  a  decision  by 
common  consent.  It  must  not  be  forgotten  that  there  is  hardly 
ever  much  room  for  doubt  or  deliberation,  as  natives  commun- 
ally, as  well  as  individually,  never  act  except  on  traditional  and 
conventional  lines.  This  village  headman  is,  as  a  rule, 

*  This  does  not  mean  that  the  general  economic  conclusions  are  wrong. 
The  economic  nature  of  Man  is  as  a  rule  illustrated  on  imaginary  savages  for 
didactic  purposes  only,  and  the  conclusions  of  the  authors  are  in  reality  based 
on  their  study  of  the  facts  of  developed  economics.  But,  nevertheless,  quite 
apart  from  the  fact  that  pedagogically  it  is  a  wrong  principle  to  make  matters 
look  more  simple  by  introducing  a  falsehood,  it  is  the  Ethnographer's  duty 
and  right  to  protest  against  the  introduction  from  outside  of  false  facts  into 
his  own  field  of  study. 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  63 

therefore,  not  much  more  than  a  master  of  tribal  ceremonies, 
and  the  main  speaker  within  and  without  the  tribe,  whenever 
one  is  needed. 

But  the  position  of  headman  becomes  much  more  than  this, 
when  he  is  a  person  of  high  rank,  which  is  by  no  means  always 
the  case.  In  the  Trobriands  there  exist  four  totemic  clans, 
and  each  of  these  is  divided  into  a  number  of  smaller  sub-clans, 
— which  could  also  be  called  families  or  castes,  for  the 
members  of  each  claim  common  descent  from  one  ancestress, 
and  each  of  them  holds  a  certain,  specified  rank.  These  sub- 
clans  have  also  a  local  character,  because  the  original  ancestress 
emerged  from  a  hole  in  the  ground,  as  a  rule  somewhere  in  the 
neighbourhood  of  their  village  community.  There  is  not  one 
sub-clan  in  the  Trobriands  whose  members  cannot  indicate  its 
original  locality,  where  their  group,  in  the  form  of  the 
ancestress,  first  saw  the  light  of  the  sun.  Coral  outcrops, 
water-holes,  small  caves  or  grottoes,  are  generally  pointed 
out  as  the  original  "  holes  "  or  "  houses/'  as  they  are  called. 
Often  such  a  hole  is  surrounded  by  one  of  the  tabooed  clumps 
of  trees  alluded  to  before.  Many  of  them  are  situated  in  the 
groves  surrounding  a  village,  and  a  few  near  the  sea  shore. 
Not  one  is  on  the  cultivable  land. 

The  highest  sub-clan  is  that  of  the  Tabalu,  belonging  to 
the  Malasi  totem  clan.  To  this  sub-clan  belongs  the  main 
chief  of  Kiriwina,  To'uluwa,  who  resides  in  the  village  of 
Omarakana  (see  Plate  II  and  Frontispiece).  He  is  in  the  first 
place  the  headman  of  his  own  village,  and  in  contrast  to  the 
headmen  of  low  rank,  he  has  quite  a  considerable  amount  of 
power.  His  high  rank  inspires  everyone  about  him  with  the 
greatest  and  most  genuine  respect  and  awe,  arid  the  remnants 
of  his  power  are  still  surprisingly  large,  even  now,  when  white 
authorities,  very  foolishly  and  with  fatal  results,  do  their 
utmost  to  undermine  his  prestige  and  influence. 

Not  only  does  the  chief — by  which  word  I  shall  designate 
a  headman  of  rank — possess  a  high  degree  of  authority  within 
his  own  village,  but  his  sphere  of  influence  extends  far  beyond 
it  A  number  of  villages  are  tributary  to  him,  and  in  several 
respects  subject  to  his  authority.  In  case  of  war,  they  are  his 
allies,  and  have  to  foregather  in  his  village.  When  he  needs 
men  to  perform  some  task,  he  can  send  to  his  subject  villages, 
and  they  will  supply  him  with  workers.  In  all  big  festivities 


64  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

the  villages  of  his  district  will  join,  and  the  chief  will  act  as 
master  of  ceremonies.  Nevertheless,  for  all  these  services 
rendered  to  him  he  has  to  pay.  He  even  has  to  pay  for  any 
tributes  received  out  of  his  stores  of  wealth.  Wealth,  in  the 
Trobriands,  is  the  outward  sign  and  the  substance  of  power, 
and  the  means  also  of  exercising  it.  But  how  does  he  acquire 
his  wealth  ?  And  here  we  come  to  the  main  duty  of  the  vassal 
villages  to  the  chief.  From  each  subject  village,  he  takes  a 
wife,  whose  family,  according  to  the  Trobriand  law,  has  to 
supply  him  with  large  amounts  of  crops.  This  wife  is  always 
the  sister  or  some  relation  of  the  headman  of  the  subject 
village,  and  thus  practically  the  whole  community  has  to  work 
for  him.  In  olden  days,  the  chief  of  Omarakana  had  up  to 
as  many  as  forty  consorts,  and  received  perhaps  as  much  as 
thirty  to  fifty  per  cent,  of  all  the  garden  produce  of  Kiriwina. 
Even  now,  when  his  wives  number  only  sixteen,  he  has 
enormous  storehouses,  and  they  are  full  to  the  roof  with  yams 
every  harvest  time. 

With  this  supply,  he  is  able  to  pay  for  the  many  services  he 
requires,  to  furnish  with  food  the  participants  in  big  feasts,  in 
tribal  gatherings  or  distant  expeditions.  Part  of  the  food  he 
uses  to  acquire  objects  of  native  wealth,  or  to  pay  for  the  making 
of  them.  In  brief,  through  his  privilege  of  practising  polygamy, 
the  chief  is  kept  supplied  with  an  abundance  of  wealth  in  food 
stuffs  and  in  valuables,  which  he  uses  to  maintain  his  high 
position  ;  to  organise  tribal  festivities  and  enterprises,  and  to 
pay,  according  to  custom,  for  the  many  personal  services  to 
which  he  is  entitled. 

One  point  in  connection  with  the  chief's  authority  deserves 
special  mention.  Power  implies  not  only  the  possibility  of 
rewarding,  but  also  the  means  of  punishing.  This  in  the 
Trobriands  is  as  a  rule  done  indirectly,  by  means  of  sorcery. 
The  chief  has  the  best  sorcerers  of  the  district  always  at  his 
beck  and  call.  Of  course  he  also  has  to  reward  them  when 
they  do  him  a  service.  If  anyone  offends  him,  or  trespasses 
upon  his  authority,  the  chief  summons  the  sorcerer,  and  orders 
that  the  culprit  shall  die  by  black  magic.  And  here  the  chief 
is  powerfully  helped  in  achieving  his  end  by  the  fact  that  he 
can  do  this  openly,  so  that  everybody,  and  the  victim  himself 
knows  that  a  sorcerer  is  after  him.  As  the  natives  are  very 
deeply  and  genuinely  afraid  of  sorcery,  the  feeling  of  being 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  65 

hunted,  of  imagining  themselves  doomed,  is  in  itself  enough  to 
doom  them  in  reality.  Only  in  extreme  cases,  does  a  chief 
inflict  direct  punishment  on  a  culprit.  He  has  one  or  two 
hereditary  henchmen,  whose  duty  it  is  to  kill  the  man  who 
has  so  deeply  offended  him,  that  actual  death  is  the  only 
sufficient  punishment.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  very  few  cases 
of  this  are  on  record,  and  it  is  now,  of  course,  entirely  in 
abeyance. 

Thus  the  chief's  position  can  be  grasped  only  through  the 
realisation  of  the  high  importance  of  wealth,  of  the  necessity 
of  paying  for  everything,  even  for  services  which  are  due  to 
him,  and  which  could  not  be  withheld.  Again,  this  wealth 
comes  to  the  chief  from  his  relations-in-law,  and  it  is  through 
his  right  to  practise  polygamy  that  he  actually  achieves  his 
position,  and  exercises  his  power. 

Side  by  side  with  this  rather  complex  mechanism  of 
authority,  the  prestige  of  rank,  the  direct  recognition  of  his 
personal  superiority,  give  the  chief  an  immense  power,  even 
outside  his  district.  Except  for  the  few  of  his  own  rank,  no 
native  in  the  Trobriands  will  remain  erect  when  the  great  chief 
of  Omarakana  approaches,  even  in  these  days  of  tribal  dis- 
integration. Wherever  he  goes,  he  is  considered  as  the  most 
important  person,  is  seated  on  a  high  platform,  and  treated 
with  consideration.  Of  course  the  fact  that  he  is  accorded 
marks  of  great  deference,  and  approached  in  the  manner  as  if 
he  were  a  supreme  despot,  does  not  mean  that  perfect  good 
fellowship  and  sociability  do  not  reign  in  his  personal 
relations  with  his  companions  and  vassals.  There  is  no 
difference  in  interests  or  outlook  between  him  and  his  subjects. 
They  sit  together  and  chat,  they  exchange  village  gossip,  the 
only  difference  being  that  the  chief  is  always  on  his  guard,  and 
much  more  reticent  and  diplomatic  than  the  other,  though  he 
is  no  less  interested.  The  chief,  unless  he  is  too  old,  joins  in 
dances  and  even  in  games,  and  indeed  he  takes  precedence 
as  a  matter  of  course. 

In  trying  to  realise  the  social  conditions  among  the 
Trobrianders  and  their  neighbours,  it  must  not  be  forgotten 
that  their  social  organisation  is  in  certain  respects  complex 
and  ill-defined.  Besides  very  definite  laws  which  are  strictly 
obeyed,  there  exist  a  number  of  quaint  usages,  of  vague 
graduations  in  rules,  of  others  where  the  exceptions  are  so  many, 


66  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

that  they  rather  obliterate  the  rule  than  confirm  it.  The  narrow 
social  outlook  of  the  native  who  does  not  see  beyond  his  own 
district,  the  prevalence  of  singularities  and  exceptional  cases 
is  one  of  the  leading  characteristics  of  native  sociology,  one 
which  for  many  reasons  has  not  been  sufficiently  recognised. 
But  the  main  outlines  of  chieftainship  here  presented, 
will  be  enough  to  give  a  clear  idea  of  it  and  of  some  of 
the  flavour  of  their  institutions,  as  much,  in  fact,  as  is 
necessary,  in  order  to  understand  the  chief's  role  in  the 
Kula.  But  it  must  to  a  certain  extent  be  supplemented  by 
the  concrete  data,  bearing  upon  the  political  divisions  of  the 
Trobriands. 

The  most  important  chief  is,  as  said,  the  one  who  resides 
in  Omarakana  and  rules  Kiriwina,  agriculturally  the  richest  and 
most  important  district.  His  family,  or  sub-clan,  the  Tabalu, 
are  acknowledged  to  have  by  far  the  highest  rank  in  all  the 
Archipelago.  Their  fame  is  spread  over  the  whole  Kula 
district ;  the  entire  province  of  Kiriwina  derives  prestige  from 
its  chief,  and  its  inhabitants  also  keep  all  his  personal  taboos, 
which  is  a  duty  but  also  a  distinction.  Next  to  the  high 
chief,  there  resides  in  a  village  some  two  miles  distant,  a 
personage  who,  though  in  several  respects  his  vassal,  is  also 
his  main  foe  and  rival,  the  headman  of  Kabwaku,  and  ruler 
of  the  province  of  Tilataula.  The  present  holder  of  this  title 
is  an  old  rogue  named  Moliasi.  From  time  to  time,  in  the  old 
days,  war  used  to  break  out  between  the  two  provinces,  each 
of  which  could  muster  some  twelve  villages  for  the  fight.  These 
wars  were  never  very  bloody  or  of  long  duration,  and  they  were 
in  many  ways  fought  in  a  competitive,  sporting  manner,  since, 
unlike  with  the  Dobuans  and  Southern  Massim,  there  were 
neither  head-hunting  nor  cannibalistic  practices  among  the 
Boyowans.  Nevertheless,  defeat  was  a  serious  matter.  It 
meant  a  temporary  destruction  of  the  loser's  villages,  and 
exile  for  a  year  or  two.  After  that,  a  ceremony  of  reconcilia- 
tion took  place,  and  friend  and  foe  would  help  to  rebuild  the 
villages.*  The  ruler  of  Tilataula  has  an  intermediate  rank, 
and  outside  his  district  he  does  not  enjoy  much  prestige  ;  but 
within  it,  he  has  a  considerable  amount  of  power,  and  a  good 

*  Compare  Professor  C.  G.  Seligxnan,  op.  cit.,  pp.  663-668  ;  also  the  Author, 
article  on  War  and  Weapons  among  the  Trobriand  Islanders,"  in  Man, 
January,  1918. 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  67 

deal  of  wealth,  in  the  shape  of  stored  food  and  ceremonial 
articles.  All  the  villages  under  his  rule,  have,  of  course,  their 
own  independent  headman,  who,  being  of  low  rank,  have  only 
a  small  degree  of  local  authority. 

In  the  West  of  the  big,  Northern  half  of  Boyowa  (that  is 
of  the  main  island  of  the  Trobriand  Group)  are  again  two 
districts,  in  past  times  often  at  war  with  one  another.  One  of 
them,  Kuboma,  subject  to  the  chief  of  Gumilababa,  of  high 
rank,  though  inferior  to  the  chief  of  Kiriwina,  consists  of  some 
ten  inland  villages,  and  is  very  important  as  a  centre  of 
industry.  Among  these  villages  are  included  those  of  Yalaka, 
Buduwaylaka,  Kudukwaykela,  where  the  quicklime  is  prepared 
for  betel  chewing,  and  also  the  lime  pots  made.  The  highly 
artistic  designs,  burnt  in  on  the  lime  pots,  are  the  speciality 
of  these  villagers,  but  unfortunately  the  industry  is  fast 
decaying.  The  inhabitabts  of  Luya  are  renowned  for  their 
basket  work,  of  which  the  finest  specimens  are  their  production. 
But  the  most  remarkable  of  all  is  the  village  of  Bwoytalu,  whose 
inhabitants  are  at  the  same  time  the  most  despised  pariahs,  the 
most  dreaded  sorcerers,  and  the  most  skilful  and  industrious 
craftsmen  in  the  island.  They  belong  to  several  sub-clans,  all 
originating  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  village,  near  which 
also,  according  to  tradition,  the  original  sorcerer  came  out  of 
the  soil  in  the  form  of  a  crab.  They  eat  the  flesh  of  bush-pigs, 
and  they  catch  and  eat  the  stingaree,  both  objects  of  strict 
taboos  and  of  genuine  loathing  to  the  other  inhabitants  of 
Northern  Boyowa.  ^  For  this  reason  they  are  despised  and 
regarded  as  unclean  by  the  others.  In  olden  days  they  would 
have  to  crouch  lower  and  more  abjectly  than  anyone  else.  No 
man  or  woman  would  mate  with  anyone  from  Bwoytalu, 
whether  in  marriage  or  in  an  intrigue.  Yet  in  wood  carving, 
and  especially  in  the  working  out  of  the  wonderful,  round 
dishes,  in  the  manufacture  of  plaited  fibre  work,  and  in  the 
production  of  combs,  they  are  far  more  skilful  than  anyone 
else,  and  acknowledged  to  be  such  ;  they  are  the  wholesale 
manufacturers  of  these  objects  for  export,  and  they  can  produce 
work  not  to  be  rivalled  by  any  other  village. 

The  five  villages  lying  on  the  western  coast  of  the  northern 
half,  on  the  shores  of  the  Lagoon,  form  the  district  of  Kulumata. 
They  are  all  fishing  villages,  but  differ  in  their  methods,  and 
each  has  its  own  fishing  grounds  and  its  own  methods  of 


68  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

exploiting  them.*  The  district  is  much  less  homogeneous 
than  any  of  those  before  mentioned.  It  posesses  no  paramount 
chief,  and  even  in  war  the  villagers  used  not  to  fight  on  the 
same  side.  But  it  is  impossible  to  enter  here  into  all  these 
shades  and  singularities  of  political  organisation. 

In  the  southern  part  of  Boyowa,  there  is  first  the  province 
of  Luba,  occupying  the  waist  of  the  island,  the  part  where  it 
narrows  down  to  a  long  isthmus.  This  part  is  ruled  by  a  chief 
of  high  rank,  who  resides  in  Olivilevi.  He  belongs  to  the  same 
family  as  the  chief  of  Omarakana,  and  this  southern  dominion 
is  the  result  of  a  younger  line's  having  branched  off  some  three 
generations  ago.  This  happened  after  an  unsuccessful  war. 
when  the  whole  tribe  of  Kiriwina  fled  south  to  Luba,  and  lived 
there  for  two  years  in  a  temporary  village.  The  main  body 
returned  afterwards,  but  a  number  remained  behind  with  the 
chief's  brother,  and  thus  the  village  of  Olivilevi  was  founded. 
Wawela,  which  was  formerly  a  very  big  village,  now  consists 
of  hardly  more  than  twenty  huts.  The  only  one  on  the  Eastern 
shore  which  lies  right  on  the  sea,  it  is  very  picturesquely 
situated,  overlooking  a  wide  bay  with  a  clean  beach.  It  is  of 
importance  as  the  traditional  centre  of  astronomical  knowledge. 
From  here,  for  generation  after  generation  up  to  the  present 
day,  the  calendar  of  the  natives  has  been  regulated.  This 
means  that  some  of  the  most  important  dates  are  fixed,  especi- 
ally that  of  the  great  annual  festival,  the  Milamala,  always  held 
at  full  moon.  Again,  Wawela  is  one  of  the  villages  where  the 
second  form  of  sorcery,  that  of  the  flying  witches,  has  its  main 
Trobriand  home.  In  fact,  according  to  native  belief,  this  form 
of  sorcery  has  its  seat  only  in  the  Southern  half,  and  is  unknown 
to  the  women  in  the  North,  though  the  Southern  witches  extend 
their  field  of  operations  all  over  Boyowa.  Wawela,  which  lies 
facing  the  East,  and  which  is  always  in  close  touch  with  the 
villages  of  Kitava  and  the  rest  of  the  Marshall  Bennetts,  shares 
with  these  islands  the  reputation  of  harbouring  many  women 
who  can  fly,  kill  by  magic,  who  also  feed  on  corpses,  and  are 
especially  dangerous  to  seamen  in  peril. 

Further  down  to  the  South,  on  the  Western  shore  of  the 
Lagoon,  we  come  to  the  big  settlement  of  Sinaketa,  consisting 
of  some  six  villages  lying  within  a  few  hundred  yards  from  one 

*  Compare  the  Author's  article    on  *4  Fishing  and  Fishing  Magic  in  the 
Trobriands,"  Maw,  June,  1918. 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  69 

another,  but  each  having  its  own  headman  and  a  certain  amount 
of  local  characteristics.  These  villages  form,  however,  one 
community  for  purposes  of  war  and  of  the  Kula.  Some  of  the 
local  headmen  of  Sinaketa  claim  the  highest  rank,  some  are 
commoners  ;  but  on  the  whole,  both  the  principle  of  rank  and 
the  power  of  the  chief  break  down  more  and  more  as  we  move 
South.  Beyond  Sinaketa,  we  meet  a  few  more  villages,  who 
practice  a  local  Kula,  and  with  whom  we  shall  have  to  deal 
later  on.  Sinaketa  itself  will  loom  very  largely  in  the  descrip- 
tions that  follow.  The  Southern  part  of  the  island  is  sometimes 
called  Kaybwagina,  but  it  does  not  constitute  a  definite  political 
unit,  like  the  Northern  districts. 

Finally,  south  of  the  main  island,  divided  from  it  by  a 
narrow  channel,  lies  the  half-moon-shaped  island  of  Vakuta, 
to  which  belong  four  small  villages  and  one  big  one.  Within 
recent  times,  perhaps  four  to  six  generations  ago,  there  came 
down  and  settled  in  this  last  mentioned  one  a  branch  of  the 
real  Tabalu,  the  chiefly  family  of  highest  rank.  But  their 
power  here  never  assumed  the  proportions  even  of  the  small 
chiefs  of  Sinaketa.  In  Vakuta,  the  typical  Papuo-Melanesian 
system  of  government  by  tribal  elders — with  one  more 
prominent  than  the  others,  but  not  paramount — is  in  full 
vigour. 

The  two  big  settlements  of  Sinaketa  and  Vakuta  play  a 
great  part  in  the  Kula,  and  they  also  are  the  only  two  com- 
munities in  the  whole  Trobriands  where  the  red  shell  discs  are 
made.  This  industry,  as  we  shall  see,  is  closely  associated  with 
the  Kula.  Politically,  Sinaketa  and  Vakuta  are  rivals,  and  in 
olden  days  were  periodically  at  war  with  one  another. 

Another  district  which  forms  a  definite  political  and 
cultural  unit  is  the  large  island  of  Kayleula,  in  the  West.  The 
inhabitants  are  fishermen,  canoe-builders,  and  traders,  and 
undertake  big  expeditions  to  the  western  d'Entrecasteaux 
islands,  trading  for  betel  nut,  sago,  pottery  and  turtle  shell  in 
exchange  for  their  own  industrial  produce. 

It  has  been  necessary  to  give  a  somewhat  detailed  descrip- 
tion of  chieftainship  and  political  divisions,  as  a  firm  grasp  of 
the  main,  political  institutions  is  essential  to  the  understanding 
of  the  Kula.  All  departments  of  tribal  life,  religion,  magic, 
economics  are  interwoven,  but  the  social  organisation  of  the 
tribe  lies  at  the  foundation  of  everything  else.  Thus  it  is 


70  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

essential  to  bear  in  mind  that  the  Trobriands  form  one 
cultural  unit,  speaking  the  same  language,  having  the  same 
institutions,  obeying  the  same  laws  and  regulations,  swayed 
by  the  same  beliefs  and  conventions.  The  districts  just 
enumerated,  into  which  the  Trobriands  are  subdivided,  are 
distinct  politically  and  not  culturally  ;  that  is,  each  of  them 
comprises  the  same  kind  of  natives,  only  obeying  or  at  least 
acknowledging  their  own  chief,  having  their  own  interests  and 
pursuits,  and  in  case  of  war  each  fighting  their  own  fight. 

Again,  within  each  district,  the  several  village  communities 
have  each  a  great  deal  of  independence.  A  village  community 
is  represented  by  a  headman,  its  members  make  their  gardens 
in  one  block  and  under  the  guidance  of  their  own  garden 
magician  ;  they  carry  on  their  own  feasts  and  ceremonial 
arrangements,  mourn  their  dead  in  common,  and  perform,  in 
remembrance  of  their  departed  ones,  an  endless  series  of  food 
distributions.  In  all  big  affairs,  whether  of  the  district  or  of 
the  tribe,  members  of  a  village  community  keep  together,  and 
act  in  one  group. 

VI 

Right  across  the  political  and  local  divisions  cut  the 
totemic  clans,  each  having  a  series  of  linked  totems,  with  a 
bird  as  principal  one.*  The  members  of  these  four  clans  are 
scattered  over  the  whole  tribe  of  Boyowa,  and  in  each  village 
community,  members  of  all  four  are  to  be  found,  and  even  in 
every  house,  there  are  at  least  two  classes  represented,  since 
a  husband  must  be  of  a  different  clan  from  his  wife  and  children. 
There  is  a  certain  amount  of  solidarity  within  the  clan,  based 
on  the  very  vague  feeling  of  communal  affinity  to  the  totem 
birds  and  animals,  but  much  more  on  the  many  social  duties, 
such  as  the  performance  of  certain  ceremonies,  especially 
the  mortuary  ones,  which  band  the  members  of  a  clan  together. 
But  real  solidarity  obtains  only  between  members  of  a  sub-clan. 
A  sub-clan  is  a  local  division  of  a  clan,  whose  members  claim 
common  ancestry,  and  hence  real  identity  of  bodily  substance, 
and  also  are  attached  to  the  locality  where  their  ancestors 
emerged.  It  is  to  these  sub-clans  that  the  idea  of  a  definite 

*  The  discovery  of  the  existence  of  **  linked  "  totems,  and  the  introduc- 
tion of  this  term  and  conception  are  due  to  Professor  C.  G.  Seligman.  Op.  tit., 
pp.  9,  1 1  ;  see  also  Index. 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  71 

rank  attaches.  One  of  the  totemic  clans,  the  Malasi,  includes 
the  most  aristocratic  sub-clan,  the  Tabalu,  as  well  as  the  lowest 
one,  the  local  division  of  the  Malasi  in  Bwoytalu.  A  chief  of 
the  Tabalu  feels  very  insulted  if  it  is  ever  hinted  that  he  is 
akin  to  one  of  the  stingaree-eaters  of  the  unclean  village, 
although  they  are  Malasi  like  himself.  The  principle  of  rank 
attached  to  totemic  divisions  is  to  be  met  only  in  Trobriand 
sociology ;  it  is  entirely  foreign  to  all  the  other  Papuo- 
Melanesian  tribes. 

As  regards  kinship,  the  main  thing  to  be  remembered  is 
that  the  natives  are  matrilineal,  and  that  the  succession  of 
rank,  membership  in  all  the  social  groups,  and  the  inheritance 
of  possessions  descend  in  the  maternal  line.  The  mother's 
brother  is  considered  the  real  guardian  of  a  boy,  and  there  is  a 
series  of  mutual  duties  and  obligations,  which  establish  a  very 
close  and  important  relation  between  the  two.  The  real 
kinship,  the  real  identity  of  substance  is  considered  to  exist 
only  between  a  man  and  his  mother's  relations.  In  the  first 
rank  of  these,  his  brothers  and  sisters  are  specially  near  to  him. 
For  his  sister  or  sisters  he  has  to  work  as  soon  as  they  are  grown 
up  and  married.  But,  in  spite  of  that,  a  most  rigorous  taboo 
exists  between  them,  beginning  quite  early  in  life.  No  man 
would  joke  and  talk  freely  in  the  presence  of  his  sister,  or  even 
look  at  her.  The  slightest  allusion  to  the  sexual  affairs,  whether 
illicit  or  matrimonial,  of  a  brother  or  sister  in  the  presence  of 
the  other,  is  the  deadliest  insult  and  mortification.  When  a 
man  approaches  a  group  of  people  where  his  sister  is  talking, 
either  she  withdraws  or  he  turns  away. 

The  father's  relation  to  his  children  is  remarkable 
Physiological  fatherhood*  is  unknown,  and  no  tie  of  kinship  or 
relationship  is  supposed  to  exist  between  father  and  child, 
except  that  between  a  mother's  husband  and  the  wife's  child. 
Nevertheless,  the  father  is  by  far  the  nearest  and  most  affec- 
tionate friend  of  his  children.  In  ever  so  many  cases,  I 
could  observe  that  when  a  child,  a  young  boy  or  girl,  was  in 
trouble  or  sick ;  when  there  was  a  question  of  some  one  exposing 
himself  to  difficulties  or  danger  for  the  child's  sake,  it  was 

*  See  the  Author's  article,  "Baloma,  Spirits  of  the  Dead,"  Part  VII, 
J. R.A.I.,  1917,  where  this  statement  has  been  substantiated  with  abundant 
evidence.  Further  information  obtained  during  another  expedition  to  the 
Trobriands,  established  by  an  additional  wealth  of  detail  the  complete  ignorance 
of  physiological  fatherhood. 


72  THE  TROBRI4ND  ISLANDS 

always  the  father  who  worried,  who  would  undergo  all  the 
hardships  needed,  and  never  the  maternal  uncle.  This  state 
of  things  is  quite  clearly  recognised,  and  explicitly  put  into 
words  by  the  natives.  In  matters  of  inheritance  and  handing 
over  of  possessions,  a  man  always  shows  the  tendency  to  do  as 
much  for  his  children  as  he  is  able,  considering  his  obligations 
to  his  sister's  family. 

It  is  difficult,  in  one  phrase  or  two,  to  epitomise  the  distinc- 
tion between  the  two  relations,  that  between  a  boy  and  his 
maternal  uncle,  and  that  between  a  son  and  a  father.  The 
best  way  to  put  it  shortly  might  be  by  saying  that  the  maternal 
uncle's  position  of  close  relation  is  regarded  as  right  by  law  and 
usage,  whereas  the  father's  interest  and  affection  for  his  children 
are  due  to  sentiment,  and  to  the  intimate  personal  relations 
existing  between  them.  He  has  watched  the  children  grow 
up,  he  has  assisted  the  mother  in  many  of  the  small  and 
tender  cares  given  to  an  infant,  he  has  carried  the  child  about, 
and  given  it  such  education  as  it  gets  from  watching  the  elder 
ones  at  work,  and  gradually  joining  in.  In  matters  of  inheri- 
tance, the  father  gives  the  children  all  that  he  can,  and  gives 
it  freely  and  with  pleasure  ;  the  maternal  uncle  gives  under 
the  compulsion  of  custom  what  he  cannot  withhold  and  keep 
for  his  own  children. 

VII 

A  few  more  words  must  be  said  about  some  of  the  magico- 
religious  ideas  of  the  Trobrianders.  The  main  thing  that 
struck  me  in  connection  with  their  belief  in  the  spirits  of  the 
dead,  was  that  they  are  almost  completely  devoid  of  any  fear 
of  ghosts,  of  any  of  these  uncanny  feelings  with  which  we  face 
the  idea  of  a  possible  return  of  the  dead.  All  the  fears  and 
dreads  of  the  natives  are  reserved  for  black  magic,  flying 
witches,  malevolent  disease-bringing  beings,  but  above  all  for 
sorcerers  and  witches.  The  spirits  migrate  immediately  after 
death  to  the  island  of  Tuma,  lying  in  the  North-West  of  Boyowa, 
and  there  they  exist  for  another  span  of  time,  underground, 
say  some,  on  the  surface  of  the  earth,  though  invisible,  say 
others.  They  return  to  visit  their  own  villages  once  a*  year, 
and  take  part  in  the  big  annual  feast,  milamala,  where  they 
receive  offerings.  Sometimes,  at  this  season,  they  show 
themselves  to  the  living,  who  are,  however,  not  alarmed  by  it, 


i 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  73 

and  in  general  the  spirits  do  not  influence  human  beings  very 
much,  for  better  or  worse.*  In  a  number  of  magical  formulae, 
there  is  an  invocation  of  ancestral  spirits,  and  they  receive 
offerings  in  several  rites.  But  there  is  nothing  of  the  mutual 
interaction,  of  the  intimate  collaboration  between  man  and 
spirit  which  are  the  essence  of  religious  cult. 

On  the  other  hand,  magic,  the  attempt  of  man  to  govern 
the  forces  of  nature  directly,  by  means  of  a  special  lore,  is 
all-pervading,  and  all-important  in  the  Trobriands.f  Sorcery 
and  garden  magic  have  already  been  mentioned.  Here  it  must 
suffice  to  add,  that  everything  that  vitally  affects  the  native 
is  accompanied  by  magic.  All  economic  activities  have  their 
magic  ;  love,  welfare  of  babies,  talents  and  crafts,  beauty  and 
agility — all  can  be  fostered  or  frustrated  by  magic.  In 
dealing  with  the  Kula — a  pursuit  of  immense  importance  to 
the  natives,  and  playing  on  almost  all  their  social  passions  and 
ambitions — we  shall  meet  with  another  system  of  magic,  and 
we  shall  have  then  to  go  more  into  detail  about  the  subject 
in  general. 

Disease,  health,  or  death  are  also  the  result  of  magic  or 
counter-magic.  The  Trobrianders  have  a  very  complex  and 
very  definite  set  of  theoretical  views  on  these  matters.  Good 
health  is  primarily  of  course  the  natural,  normal  state.  Minor 
ills  may  be  contracted  by  exposure,  over-eating,  over-strain, 
bad  food,  or  other  ordinary  causes.  Such  ailments  never 
last,  and  have  never  any  really  bad  effects,  nor  are  they  of 
immediate  danger.  But,  if  a  man  sickens  for  any  length  of 
time,  and  his  strength  seems  to  be  really  sapped,  then  the  evil 
forces  are  at  work.  By  far  the  most  prevalent  form  of  black 
magic,  is  that  of  the  bwaga'u,  that  is  the  black  sorcerer,  of 
whom  there  are  a  number  in  each  district.  Usually  even  in 
each  village  there  are  one  or  two  men  more  or  less  dreaded  as 
bwaga'u.  To  be  one  does  not  require  any  special  initiation 
except  the  knowledge  of  the  spells.  To  learn  these — that  is, 
to  learn  them  in  such  a  manner  as  to  become  an  acknowledged 

*  See  the  Author's  article  "  Baloma,  Spirits  of  the  Dead,"  quoted  above. 

f  I  am  using  the  words  religion  and  magic  according  to  Sir  James  Frazer's 
distinction  (see  "  Golden  Bough,"  vol.  I).  Frazer's  definition  suits  the  Kiri- 
winian  facts  much  better  than  any  other  one.  In  fact,  although  I  started  my 
field  work  convinced  that  the  theories  of  religion  and  magic  expounded  in  the 
"  Golden  Bough  "  are  inadequate,  I  was  forced  by  all  my  observations  in  New 
Guinea  to  come  over  to  Frazer's  position. 


74  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

bwaga'u — can  only  be  done  by  means  of  high  payment,  or  in 
exceptional  circumstances.  Thus,  a  father  will  often  "  give  "" 
his  sorcery  to  his  son,  always,  however,  without  payment ; 
or  a  commoner  will  teach  it  to  a  man  of  rank,  or  a  man  to  his 
sister's  son.  In  these  two  latter  cases  a  very  high  payment 
would  have  to  be  given.  It  is  important  as  a  characteristic  of 
the  kinship  conditions  of  this  people,  that  a  man  -receives 
sorcery  gratis  from  his  father,  who  according  to  the  traditional 
kinship  system  is  no  blood-relation,  whereas  he  has  to  pay  for 
it  to  his  maternal  uncle,  whose  natural  heir  he  is. 

When  a  man  has  acquired  the  black  art,  he  applies  it  to 
a  first  victim,  and  this  has  always  to  be  some  one  of  his  own 
family.  It  is  a  firm  and  definite  belief  among  all  the  natives 
that  if  a  man's  sorcery  has  to  be  any  good,  it  must  first  be 
practised  on  his  mother  or  sister,  or  any  of  his  maternal  kindred. 
Such  a  matricidal  act  makes  him  a  genuine  bwaga'u.  His  art 
then  can  be  practised  on  others,  and  becomes  an  established 
source  of  income. 

The  beliefs  about  sorcery  are  complex  ;  they  differ  according 
as  to  whether  taken  from  a  real  sorcerer,  or  from  an  outsider  ; 
and  there  are  also  evidently  strata  of  belief,  due  perhaps  to 
local  variation,  perhaps  to  superimposed  versions.  Here  a 
short  summary  must  suffice. 

When  a  sorcerer  wants  to  attack  someone,  the  first  step  is 
to  cast  a  light  spell  over  his  habitual  haunts,  a  spell  which  will 
affect  him  with  a  slight  illness  and  compel  him  to  keep  to  his 
bed  in  his  house,  where  he  will  try  to  cure  himself  by  lying 
over  a  small  fire  and  warming  his  body.  His  first  ailment, 
called  kaynagola,  comprises  pains  in  the  body,  such  as  (speaking 
from  our  point  of  view)  would  be  brought  about  by  rheumatism, 
general  cold,  influenza,  or  any  incipient  disease.  When  the 
victim  is  in  bed,  with  a  fire  burning  under  him,  and  also,  as  a 
rule,  one  in  the  middle  of  the  hut,  the  bwaga'u  stealthily 
approaches  the  house.  He  is  accompanied  by  a  few  night- 
birds,  owls  and  night- jars,  which  keep  guard  over  him,  and  he 
is  surrounded  by  a  halo  of  legendary  terrors  which  make  all 
natives  shiver  at  the  idea  of  meeting  a  sorcerer  on  such  a 
nocturnal  visit.  He  then  tries  to  insert  through  the  thatch 
wall  a  bunch  of  herbs  impregnated  with  some  deadly  charm  and 
tied  to  a  long  stick,  and  these  he  attempts  to  thrust  into  the 
fire  over  which  the  sick  man  is  lying.  If  he  succeeds,  the  fumes 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  75 

of  the  burnt  leaves  will  be  inhaled  by  the  victim,  whose  name 
has  been  uttered  in  the  charm,  and  he  will  be  seized  by  one 
or  other  of  the  deadly  diseases  of  which  the  natives  have  a  long 
list,  with  a  definite  symptomatology,  as  well  as  a  magical 
etiology.  Thus  the  preliminary  sorcery  was  necessary,  in 
order  to  keep  the  victim  to  his  house,  in  which  spot  only 
can  the  mortal  magic  be  performed. 

Of  course,  the  sick  man  is  on  the  defensive  as  well.  First 
of  all,  his  friends  and  relatives — this  is  one  of  the  main  duties 
of  the  wife's  brothers — will  keep  a  close  watch  over  him, 
sitting  with  spears  round  the  hut,  and  at  all  approaches  to  it. 
Often  have  I  come  across  such  vigils,  when  walking  late  at 
night  through  some  village.  Then,  the  services  of  some  rival 
bwaga'u  are  invoked  (for  the  art  of  killing  and  curing  is  always 
in  the  same  hand),  and  he  utters  counter-spells,  so  that  at  times 
the  efforts  of  the  first  sorcerer,  even  should  he  succeed  in 
burning  the  herbs  according  to  the  dreaded  toginivayu  rite,  are 
fruitless. 

Should  this  be  so,  he  resorts  to  the  final  and  most  fatal  rite, 
that  of  the  pointing-bone.  Uttering  powerful  spells,  the 
bwaga'u  and  one  or  two  accomplices,  boil  some  coco-nut  oil 
in  a  small  pot,  far  away  in  a  dense  patch  of  jungle.  Leaves  of 
herbs  are  soaked  in  the  oil,  and  then  wrapped  round  a  sharp 
stingaree  spine,  or  some  similar  pointed  object,  and  the  final 
incantation,  most  deadly  of  all,  is  chanted  over  it.  Then  the 
bwaga'u  steals  towards  the  village,  catches  sight  of  his  victim, 
and  hiding  himself  behind  a  shrub  or  house,  points  the  magical 
dagger  at  him.  In  fact,  he  violently  and  viciously  turns  it 
round  in  the  air,  as  if  to  stab  the  victim,  and  to  twist  and 
wrench  the  point  in  the  wound.  This,  if  carried  out  properly, 
and  not  counteracted  by  a  still  more  powerful  magician,  will 
never  fail  to  kill  a  man. 

I  have  here  summarised  the  bare  outlines  of  the  successive 
application  of  black  magic  as  it  is  believed  by  sorcerer  and 
outsider  alike  to  be  done,  and  to  act  in  producing  disease  and 
death.  There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  acts  of  sorcery  are 
really  carried  out  by  those  who  believe  themselves  to  possess 
the  black  powers.  It  is  equally  certain  that  the  nervous 
strain  of  knowing  one's  life  to  be  threatened  by  a  bwaga'u 
is  very  great,  and  probably  it  is  much  worse  when  a  man 
knows  that  behind  the  sorcerer  stands  the  might  of  the  chief 


76  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

and  this  apprehension  certainly  contributes  powerfully  towards 
the  success  of  black  magic.  On  the  other  hand,  a  chief,  if 
attacked,  would  have  a  good  guard  to  protect  him,  and  the 
most  powerful  wizards  to  back  him  up,  and  also  the  authority 
to  deal  directly  with  anyone  suspected  of  plotting  against  him. 
Thus  sorcery,  which  is  one  of  the  means  of  carrying  on  the 
established  order,  is  in  its  turn  strengthened  by  it. 

If  we  remember  that,  as  in  all  belief  in  the  miraculous  and 
supernatural,  so  also  here,  there  is  the  loophole  of  counter- 
forces,  and  of  the  sorcery  being  incorrectly  or  inefficiently 
applied,  spoilt  by  broken  taboos,  mispronounced  spells,  or 
what  not ;  again,  that  suggestion  strongly  influences  the 
victim,  and  undermines  his  natural  resistance  ;  further  that 
all  disease  is  invariably  traced  back  to  some  sorcerer  or  other, 
who,  whether  it  is  true  or  not,  often  frankly  admits  his  responsi- 
bility in  order  to  enhance  his  reputation,  there  is  then  no 
difficulty  in  understanding  why  the  belief  in  black  magic 
flourishes,  why  no  empirical  evidence  can  ever  dispel  it,  and 
why  the  sorcerer  no  less  than  the  victim,  has  confidence  in 
his  own  powers.  At  least,  the  difficulty  is  the  same  as  in 
explaining  many  contemporary  examples  of  results  achieved 
by  miracles  and  faith  healing,  such  as  Christian  Science  or 
Lourdes,  or  in  any  cure  by  prayers  and  devotion. 

Although  by  far  the  most  important  of  them  all,  the 
bwaga'u  is  only  one  among  the  beings  who  can  cause  disease 
and  death.  The  often-mentioned  flying-witches,  who  come 
always  from  the  Southern  half  of  the  island,  or  from  the  East, 
from  the  islands  of  Kitava,  Iwa,  Gava,  or  Murua,  are  even 
more  deadly.  All  very  rapid  and  violent  diseases,  more 
especially  such  as  show  no  direct,  perceptible  symptoms,  are 
attributed  to  the  mulukwami,  as  they  are  called.  Invisible, 
they  fly  through  the  air,  and  perch  on  trees,  house-tops,  and 
other  high  places.  From  there,  they  pounce  upon  a  man  or 
woman  and  remove  and  hide  "  the  inside,"  that  is,  the  lungs, 
heart  and  guts,  or  the  brains  and  tongue.  Such  a  victim  will 
die  within  a  day  or  two,  unless  another  witch,  called  for  the 
purpose  and  well  paid,  goes  in  search  and  restores  the  missing 
"  inside."  Of  course,  sometimes  it  is  too  late  to  do  it,  as  the  meal 
has  been  eaten  in  the  meantime  !  Then  the  victim  must  die. 

Another  powerful  agency  of  death  consists  of  the  tauva'u, 
non-human  though  anthropomorphic  beings,  who  cause  all 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  77 

epidemic  disease.  When,  at  the  end  of  the  rainy  season  the 
new  and  unripe  yams  have  come  in,  and  dysentery  rages, 
decimating  the  villages  ;  or,  when  in  hot  and  damp  years  an 
infectious  disease  passes  over  the  district,  taking  heavy  toll, 
this  means  that  the  tauva'u  have  come  from  the  South,  and 
that,  invisible,  they  march  through  the  villages,  rattling  their 
lime  gourds,  and  with  their  sword-clubs  or  sticks  hitting  their 
victims,  who  immediately  sicken  and  die.  The  tauva'u  can,  at 
will,  assume  the  shape  of  man  or  reptile.  He  appears  then  as 
a  snake,  or  crab,  or  lizard,  and  you  recognise  him  at  once,  for 
he  will  not  run  away  from  you,  and  he  has  as  a  rule  a  patch 
of  some  gaudy  colour  on  his  skin.  It  would  be  a  fatal  thing 
to  kill  such  a  reptile.  On  the  contrary,  it  has  to  be  taken  up 
cautiously  and  treated  as  a  chief  ;  that  is  to  say,  it  is  placed 
on  a  high  platform,  and  some  of  the  valuable  tokens  of  wealth 
— a  polished  green  stone  blade,  or  a  pair  of  arm-shells,  or  a 
necklace  of  spondylus  shell  beads  must  be  put  before  it  as  an 
offering. 

It  is  very  interesting  to  note  that  the  tauva'u  are  believed 
to  come  from  the  Northern  coast  of  Normanby  Island,  from  the 
district  of  DuVu,  and  more  especially  from  a  place  called 
Sewatupa.  This  is  the  very  place  where,  according  to  Dobuan 
belief  and  myth,  their  sorcery  originated.  Thus,  what  to  the 
local  tribes  of  the  originating  place  is  ordinary  sorcery, 
practised  by  men,  becomes,  when  looked  at  from  a  great 
distance,  and  from  an  alien  tribe,  a  non-human  agency, 
endowed  with  such  super-normal  powers  as  changing  of 
shape,  invisibility,  and  a  direct,  infallible  method  of 
inflicting  death. 

The  tauva'u  have  sometimes  sexual  intercourse  with 
women  ;  several  present  cases  are  on  record,  and  such  women 
who  have  a  familar  tauva'u  become  dangerous  witches,  though 
how  they  practise  their  witchcraft  is  not  quite  clear  to  the 
natives. 

A  much  less  dangerous  being  is  the  tokway,  a  wood  sprite, 
living  in  trees  and  rocks,  stealing  crops  from  the  field  and  from 
the  yam-houses,  and  inflicting  slight  ailments.  Some  men  in 
the  past  have  acquired  the  knowledge  of  how  to  do  this  from 
the  tokway,  and  have  handed  it  on  to  their  descendants. 

So  we  see  that,  except  for  the  very  light  ailments  which 
pass  quickly  and  easily,  all  disease  is  attributed  to  sorcery. 


78  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

Even  accidents  are  not  believed  to  happen  without  cause. 
That  this  is  the  case  also  with  drowning,  we  shall  learn  more 
in  detail,  when  we  have  to  follow  the  Trobrianders  in  their 
dangerous  sea-trips.  Natural  death,  caused  by  old  age,  is 
admittedly  possible,  but  when  I  asked  in  several  concrete 
cases,  in  which  age  was  obviously  the  cause,  why  such  and  such 
a  man  died,  I  was  always  told  that  a  bwaga'u  was  at  the  back 
of  it.  Only  suicide  and  death  in  battle  have  a  different  place 
in  the  mind  of  the  natives,  and  this  is  also  confirmed  by  the 
belief  that  people  killed  in  war,  those  that  commit  suicide, 
and  those  who  are  frewitched  to  death  have,  each  class,  their 
own  way  to  the  other  world. 

This  sketch  of  Trobriand  tribal  life,  belief  and  customs 
must  suffice,  and  we  shah1  still  have  opportunities  of  enlarging 
upon  these  subjects  that  most  matter  to  us  for  the  present 
study. 

VIII 

Two  more  districts  remain  to  be  mentioned,  through  which 
the  Kula  trade  passes  on  its  circuit,  before  it  returns  to 
the  place  from  where  we  started.  One  of  them  is  the  Eastern 
portion  of  the  Northern  Massim,  comprising  the  Marshall 
Bennett  Islands  (Kitava,  Iwa,  Gawa,  Kwayawata),  and  Wood- 
lark  Island  (Murua),  with  the  small  group  of  Nada  Islands 
The  other  district  is  that  of  St.  Aignan  Island,  called  by  the 
natives  Masima,  or  Misima,  with  the  smaller  island  Panayati. 

Looking  from  the  rocky  shores  of  Boyowa,  at  its  narrowest 
point,  we  can  see  over  the  white  breakers  on  the  fringing  reef 
and  over  the  sea,  here  always  blue  and  limpid,  the  silhouette 
of  a  flat-topped,  low  rock,  almost  due  East,  This  is  Kitava, 
To  the  Trobrianders  of  the  Eastern  districts,  this  island  and 
those  behind  it  are  the  promised  land  of  the  Kula,  just  as  Dobu 
is  to  the  natives  of  Southern  Boyowa.  But  here,  unlike  in 
the  South,  they  have  to  deal  with  tribesmen  who  speak  their 
own  language,  with  dialectic  differences  only,  and  who  have 
very  much  the  same  institutions  and  customs.  In  fact,  the 
nearest  island,  Kitava,  differs  only  very  little  from  the  Tro- 
briands.  Although  the  more  distant  islands,  especially 
Murua,  have  a  slightly  different  form  of  totemism,  with  hardly 
any  idea  of  rank  attached  to  the  sub-clans,  and  consequently 
no  chieftainship  in  the  Trobriand  sense,  yet  their  social 


THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS  79 

organisation  is  also  much  the  same  as  in  the  Western  province.* 
I  know  the  natives  only  from  having  seen  them  very  frequently 
and  in  great  numbers  in  the  Trobriands,  where  they  come  on 
Kula  expeditions.  In  Murua,  however,  I  spent  a  short  time 
doing  field  work  in  the  village  of  Dikoyas.  In  appearance, 
dress,  ornaments  and  manners,  the  natives  are  indistinguishable 
from  the  Trobrianders.  Their  ideas  and  customs  in  matters  of 
sex,  marriage,  and  kinship  are,  with  variations  in  detail  only, 
the  same  as  in  Boyowa.  In  beliefs  and  mythology,  they  also 
belong  to  the  same  culture. 

To  the  Trobrianders,  the  Eastern  islands  are  also  the  chief 
home  and  stronghold  of  the  dreaded  mulukwausi  (flying 
witches);  the  land  whence  love  magic  came,  originating  in  the 
island  of  Iwa  ;  the  distant  shores  towards  which  the  mythical 
hero  Tudava  sailed,  performing  many  feats,  till  he  finally 
disappeared,  no  one  knows  where.  The  most  recent  version  is 
that  he  most  likely  finished  his  career  in  the  white  man's 
country.  To  the  Eastern  islands,  says  native  belief,  the 
spirits  of  the  dead,  killed  by  sorcery,  go  round  on  a  short  visit 
not  stopping  there,  only  floating  through  the  air  like  clouds, 
before  they  turn  round  to  the  North- West  to  Tuma. 

From  these  islands,  many  important  products  come  to 
Boyowa  (the  Trobriands),  but  none  half  as  important  as  the 
tough,  homogeneous  green-stone,  from  which  all  their  imple- 
ments were  made  in  the  past,  and  of  which  the  ceremonial  axes 
are  made  up  till  now.  Some  of  these  places  are  renowned  for 
their  yam  gardens,  especially  Kitava,  and  it  is  recognised  that 
the  best  carving  in  black  ebony  comes  from  there.  The  most 
important  point  of  difference  between  the  natives  of  this 
district  and  the  Trobrianders,  lies  in  the  method  of  mortuary 
distributions,  to  which  subject  we  shall  have  to  return  in  a 
later  part  of  the  book,  as  it  is  closely  connected  with  Kula. 

From  Murua  (Woodlark  Island)  the  Kula  track  curves  over 
to  the  South  in  two  different  branches,  one  direct  to  Tubetube, 
and  the  other  to  Misima,  and  thence  to  Tubetube  and  Wari. 
The  district  of  Misima  is  almost  entirely  unknown  to  me — I 
have  only  spoken  once  or  twice  with  natives  of  this  island, 
and  there  is  not,  to  my  knowledge,  any  reliable  published 

*  Compare  Professor  C.  G.  Sehgman,  op.  cit.,  the  parallel  description  of 
the  social  institutions  in  the  Trobriands,  Marshall  Bennetts,  Woodlark  Island 
and  the  Loughlands,  Chapters  XLIX — LV. 


8o  THE  TROBRIAND  ISLANDS 

information  about  that  district,  so  we  shall  have  to  pass  it 
over  with  a  very  few  words.  This  is,  however,  not  so  alarming, 
because  it  is  certain,  even  from  the  little  I  know  about  them, 
that  the  natives  do  not  essentially  differ  from  the  other  Massim. 
They  are  totemic  and  matrilineal ;  there  is  no  chieftainship, 
and  the  form  of  authority  is  the  same  as  in  the  Southern 
Massim.  Their  sorcerers  and  witches  resemble  thpse  of  the 
Southern  Massim  and  Dobuans.  In  industries,  they  specialise 
in  canoe-building,  and  in  the  small  island  of  Panayati  produce 
the  same  type  of  craft  as  the  natives  of  Gawa  and  Woodlark 
Island,  slightly  different  only  from  the  Trobriand  canoe.  In 
the  island  of  Misima,  a  very  big  supply  of  areca  (betel)  nut  is 
produced,  as  there  is  a  custom  of  planting  a  number  of  these 
nuts  after  a  man's  death. 

The  small  islands  of  Tubetube  and  Wari,  which  form  the 
final  link  of  the  Kula,  lie  already  within  the  district  of  the 
Southern  Massim.  In  fact,  the  island  of  Tubetube  is  one  of 
the  places  studied  in  detail  by  Professor  Seligman,  and  its 
ethnographical  description  is  one  of  three  parallel  monographs 
which  form  the  division  of  the  Southern  Massim  in  the  treatise 
so  often  quoted. 

Finally,  I  want  to  point  out  again  that  the  descriptions 
of  the  various  Kula  districts  given  in  this  and  in  the 
previous  chapter,  though  accurate  in  every  detail,  are 
not  meant  to  be  an  exhaustive  ethnographic  sketch 
of  the  tribes.  They  have  been  given  with  a  few  light 
touches  in  order  to  produce  a  vivid  and  so-to-speak  personal 
impression  of  the  various  type  of  natives,  and  countries  and 
of  cultures.  If  I  have  succeeded  in  giving  a  physiognomy  to 
each  of  the  various  tribes,  to  the  Trobrianders,  to  the 
Amphlettans,  the  Dobuans,  and  the  Southern  Massim,  and  in 
arousing  some  interest  in  them,  the  main  purpose  has  been 
achieved,  and  the  necessary  ethnographic  background  for  the 
Kula  has  been  supplied. 


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CHAPTER  III 
THE    ESSENTIALS    OF    THE    KULA 

I 

HAVING  thus  described  the  scene,  and  the  actors,  let  us  now 
proceed  to  the  performance.  The  Kula  is  a  form  of  exchange, 
of  extensive,  inter-tribal  character  ;  it  is  carried  on  by  com- 
munities inhabiting  a  wide  ring  of  islands,  which  form  a 
closed  circuit.  This  circuit  can  be  seen  on  Map  V,  where  it 
is  represented  by  the  lines  joining  a  number  of  islands  to  the 
North  and  East  of  the  East  end  of  New  Guinea.  Along  this 
route,  articles  of  two  kinds,  and  these  two  kinds  only,  are 
constantly  travelling  in  opposite  directions.  In  the  direction 
of  the  hands  of  a  clock,  moves  constantly  one  of  these  kinds — 
long  necklaces  of  red  shell,  called  soulava  (Plates  XVII I  and 
XIX).  In  the  opposite  direction  moves  the  other  kind — 
bracelets  of  white  shell  called  mwali  (Plates  XVI  and  XVII). 
Each  of  these  articles,  as  it  travels  in  its  own  direction  on  the 
closed  circuit,  meets  on  its  way  articles  of  the  other  class,  and 
is  constantly  being  exchanged  for  them.  Every  movement 
of  the  Kula  articles,  every  detail  of  the  transactions  is  fixed 
and  regulated  by  a  set  of  traditional  rules  and  conventions, 
and  some  acts  of  the  Kula  are  accompanied  by  an  elaborate 
magical  ritual  and  public  ceremonies. 

On  every  island  and  in  every  village,  a  more  or  less  limited 
number  of  men  take  part  in  the  Kula — that  is  to  say,  receive 
the  goods,  hold  them  for  a  short  time,  and  then  pass  them  on. 
Therefore  every  man  who  is  in  the  Kula,  periodically  though 
not  regularly,  receives  one  or  several  mwali  (arm-shells),  or  a 
soulava  (necklace  of  red  shell  discs),  and  then  has  to  hand  it 
on  to  one  of  his  partners,  from  whom  he  receives  the  opposite 
commodity  in  exchange.  Thus  no  man  ever  keeps  any  of  the 
articles  for  any  length  of  time  in  his  possession.  One  trans- 
action does  not  finish  the  Kula  relationship,  the  rule  being 


THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA  83 

"  once  in  the  Kula,  always  in  the  Kula,"  and  a  partnership 
between  two  men  is  a  permanent  and  lifelong  affair.  Again, 
any  given  mwali  or  soulava  may  always  be  found  travelling 
and  changing  hands,  and  there  is  no  question  of  its  ever  settling 
down,  so  that  the  principle  "  once  in  the  Kula,  always  in  the 
Kula  "  applies  also  to  the  valuables  themselves. 

The  ceremonial  exchange  of  the  two  articles  is  the  main, 
the  fundamental  aspect  of  the  Kula.  But  associated  with  it, 
and  done  under  its  cover,  we  find  a  great  number  of  secondary 
activities  and  features.  Thus,  side  by  side  with  the  ritual 
exchange  of  arm-shells  and  necklaces,  the  natives  carry  on 
ordinary  trade,  bartering  from  one  island  to  another  a  great 
number  of  utilities,  often  unprocurable  in  the  district  to  which 
they  are  imported,  and  indispensable  there.  Further,  there  are 
other  activities,  preliminary  to  the  Kula,  or  associated  with  it, 
such  as  the  building  of  sea-going  canoes  for  the  expeditions,  cer- 
tain big  forms  of  mortuary  ceremonies,  and  preparatory  taboos. 

The  Kula  is  thus  an  extremely  big  and  complex  institution, 
both  in  its  geographical  extent,  and  in  the  manifoldness  of  its 
component  pursuits.  It  welds  together  a  condiderable  number 
of  tribes,  and  it  embraces  a  vast  complex  of  activities,  inter- 
connected, and  playing  into  one  another,  so  as  to  form  one 
organic  whole. 

Yet  it  must  be  remembered  that  what  appears  to  us  an 
extensive,  complicated,  and  yet  well  ordered  institution  is  the 
outcome  of  ever  so  many  doings  and  pursuits,  carried  on  by 
savages,  who  have  no  laws  or  aims  or  charters  definitely  laid 
down.  They  have  no  knowledge  of  the  total  outline  of  any  of 
their  social  structure.  They  know  their  own  motives,  know 
the  purpose  of  individual  actions  and  the  rules  which  apply 
to  them,  but  how,  out  of  these,  the  whole  collective  institution 
shapes,  this  is  beyond  their  mental  range.  Not  even  the  most 
intelligent  native  has  any  clear  idea  of  the  Kula  as  a  big, 
organised  social  construction,  still  less  of  its  sociological  function 
and  implications.  If  you  were  to  ask  him  what  the  Kula  is, 
he  would  answer  by  giving  a  few  details,  most  likely  by  giving 
his  personal  experiences  and  subjective  views  on  the  Kula, 
but  nothing  approaching  the  definition  just  given  here.  Not 
even  a  partial  coherent  account  could  be  obtained.  For  the 
integral  picture  does  not  exist  in  his  mind ;  he  is  in  it,  and 
cannot  see  the  whole  from  the  outside. 


84  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

The  integration  of  all  the  details  observed,  the  achievement 
of  a  sociological  synthesis  of  all  the  various,  relevant  symptoms, 
is  the  task  of  the  Ethnographer.  First  of  all,  he  has  to  find 
out  that  certain  activities,  which  at  first  sight  might  appear 
incoherent  and  not  correlated,  have  a  meaning.  He  then  has 
to  find  out  what  is  constant  and  relevant  in  these  activities, 
and  what  accidental  and  inessential,  that  is,  to  find  out  the 
laws  and  rules  of  all  the  transactions.  Again,  the  Ethno- 
grapher has  to  construct  the  picture  of  the  big  institution,  very 
much  as  the  physicist  constructs  his  theory  from  the  experi- 
mental data,  which  always  have  been  within  reach  of  everybody, 
but  which  needed  a  consistent  interpretation.  I  have  touched 
on  this  point  of  method  in  the  Introduction  (Divisions  V  and 
VI),  but  I  have  repeated  it  here,  as  it  is  necessary  to  grasp  it 
clearly  in  order  not  to  lose  the  right  perspective  of  conditions 
as  they  really  exist  among  the  natives. 

II 

In  giving  the  above  abstract  and  concise  definition,  I  had 
to  reverse  the  order  of  research,  as  this  is  done  in  ethnographic 
field-work,  where  the  most  generalised  inferences  are  obtained 
as  the  result  of  long  inquiries  and  laborious  inductions.  The 
general  definition  of  the  Kula  will  serve  as  a  sort  of  plan  or 
diagram  in  our  further  concrete  and  detailed  descriptions. 
And  this  is  the  more  necessary  as  the  Kula  is  concerned  with 
the  exchange  of  wealth  and  utilities,  and  therefore  it  is  an 
economic  institution,  and  there  is  no  other  aspect  of  primitive 
life  where  our  knowledge  is  more  scanty  and  our  understanding 
more  superficial  than  in  Economics.  Hence  misconception  is 
rampant,  and  it  is  necessary  to  clear  the  ground  when 
approaching  any  economic  subject. 

Thus  in  the  Introduction  we  called  the  Kula  a  "  form  of 
trade/'  and  we  ranged  it  alongside  other  systems  of  barter. 
This  is  quite  correct,  if  we  give  the  word  "  trade  "  a  sufficiently 
wide  interpretation,  and  mean  by  it  any  exchange  of  goods. 
But  the  word  "  trade  "  is  used  in  current  Ethnography  and 
economic  literature  with  so  many  different  implications  that  a 
whole  lot  of  misleading,  preconceived  ideas  have  to  be  brushed 
aside  in  order  to  grasp  the  facts  correctly.  Thus  the  aprioric 
current  notion  of  primitive  trade  would  be  that  of  an  exchange 
of  indispensable  or  useful  articles,  done  without  much  ceremony 


THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA  85 

or  regulation,  under  stress  of  dearth  or  need,  in  spasmodic, 
irregular  intervals — and  this  done  either  by  direct  barter, 
everyone  looking  out  sharply  not  to  be  done  out  of  his  due,  or, 
if  the  savages  were  too  timid  and  distrustful  to  face  one  another, 
by  some  customary  arrangement,  securing  by  means  of  heavy 
penalties  compliance  in  the  obligations  incurred  or  imposed.* 
Waiving  for  the  present  the  question  how  far  this  conception 
is  valid  or  not  in  general — in  my  opinion  it  is  quite  misleading 
— we  have  to  realise  clearly  that  the  Kula  contradicts  in 
almost  every  point  the  above  definition  of  "  savage  trade," 
It  shows  to  us  primitive  exchange  in  an  entirely  different 
light. 

The  Kula  is  not  a  surreptitious  and  precarious  form  of 
exchange.  It  is,  quite  on  the  contrary,  rooted  in  myth, 
backed  by  traditional  law,  and  surrounded  with  magical 
rites.  All  its  main  transactions  are  public  and  ceremonial, 
and  carried  out  according  to  definite  rules.  It  is  not  done  on 
the  spur  of  the  moment,  but  happens  periodically,  at  dates 
settled  in  advance,  and  it  is  carried  on  along  definite  trade 
routes,  which  must  lead  to  fixed  trysting  places.  Sociologically, 
though  transacted  between  tribes  differing  in  language,  culture, 
and  probably  even  in  race,  it  is  based  on  a  fixed  and  permanent 
status,  on  a  partnership  which  binds  into  couples  some  thousands 
of  individuals.  This  partnership  is  a  lifelong  relationship,  it 
implies  various  mutual  duties  and  privileges,  and  constitutes 
a  type  of  inter-tribal  relationship  on  an  enormous  scale.  As  to 
the  economic  mechanism  of  the  transactions,  this  is  based  on  a 
specific  form  of  credit,  which  implies  a  high  degree  of  mutual 

*  By  "  current  view,"  I  mean  such  as  is  to  be  found  in  text-books  and 
in  passing  remarks,  scattered  through  economic  and  ethnological  literature. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  Economics  is  a  subject  very  seldom  touched  upon  either 
in  theoretical  works  on  Ethnology,  or  in  accounts  of  field-work.  I  have  enlarged 
on  this  deficiency  in  the  article  on  "  Primitive  Economics,"  published  in  the 
Economic  Journal,  March,  1921. 

The  best  analysis  of  the  problem  of  savage  economy  is  to  be  found,  in 
spite  of  its  many  shortcomings,  in  K.  Biicher's  "  Industrial  Evolution,"  English 
Translation,  1901.  On  primitive  trade,  however,  his  views  are  inadequate. 
In  accordance  with  his  general  view  that  savages  have  no  national  economy, 
he  maintains  that  any  spread  of  goods  among  natives  is  achieved  by  non-econo- 
mic means,  such  as  robbery,  tributes  and  gifts.  The  information  contained 
in  the  present  volume  is  incompatible  with  Bucher's  views,  nor  could  he  have 
maintained  them  had  he  been  acquainted  with  Barton's  description  of  the 
Hin  (contained  in  Seligman's  '*  Melanesians.") 

A  summary  of  the  research  done  on  Primitive  Economics,  showing 
incidentally,  how  little  real,  sound  work  has  been  accomplished,  will  be  found 
in  Pater  W.  Kopper's  "  Die  Ethnologische  Wirtschaftsforschung  "  in  Anthropos, 
X — XI,  1915-16,  pp.  611-651,  and  971-1079.  The  article  is  very  usefu', 
where  the  author  summarises  the  views  of  others. 


86  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

trust  and  commercial  honour — and  this  refers  also  to  the 
subsidiary,  minor  trade,  which  accompanies  the  Kula  proper. 
Finally,  the  Kula  is  not  done  under  stress  of  any  need,  since  its 
main  aim  is  to  exchange  articles  which  are  of  no  practical  use. 

From  the  concise  definition  of  Kula  given  at  the  beginning 
of  this  chapter,  we  see  that  in  its  final  essence,  divested  of  all 
trappings  and  accessories,  it  is  a  very  simple  affair,  which  at 
first  sight  might  even  appear  tame  and  unromantic.  After  all, 
it  only  consists  of  an  exchange,  interminably  repeated,  of  two 
articles  intended  for  ornamentation,  but  not  even  used  for 
that  to  any  extent.  Yet  this  simple  action — this  passing  from 
hand  to  hand  of  two  meaningless  and  quite  useless  objects — 
has  somehow  succeeded  in  becoming  the  foundation  of  a  big 
inter-tribal  institution,  in  being  associated  with  ever  so  many 
other  activities,  Myth,  magic  and  tradition  have  built  up 
around  it  definite  ritual  and  ceremonial  forms,  have  given  it 
a  halo  of  romance  and  value  in  the  minds  of  the  natives,  have 
indeed  created  a  passion  in  their  hearts  for  this  simple  exchange. 

The  definition  of  the  Kula  must  now  be  amplified,  and  we 
must  describe  one  after  the  other  its  fundamental  character- 
istics and  main  rules,  so  that  it  may  be  clearly  grasped  by 
what  mechanism  the  mere  exchange  of  two  articles  results  in 
an  institution  so  vast,  complex,  and  deeply  rooted. 

Ill 

First  of  all,  a  few  words  must  be  said  about  the  two 
principal  objects  of  exchange,  the  arm-shells  (mwali)  and  the 
necklaces  (soulava).  The  arm-shells  are  obtained  by  breaking 
off  the  top  and  the  narrow  end  of  a  big,  cone-shaped  shell 
(Conns  millepunctatus),  and  then  polishing  up  the  remaining 
ring.  These  bracelets  are  highly  coveted  by  all  the  Papuo- 
Melanesians  of  New  Guinea,  and  they  spread  even  into  the  pure 
Papuan  district  of  the  Gulf.*  The  manner  of  wearing  the 
arm-shells  is  illustrated  by  Plate  XVII,  where  the  men  have 
put  them  on  on  purpose  to  be  photographed. 

The  use  of  the  small  discs  of  red  spondylus  shell,  out  of 
which  the  soulava  are  made,  is  also  of  a  very  wide  diffusion. 

*  Professor  C.  G.  Seligman,  op.  tit.,  p.  93,  states  that  arm-shells,  toea,  as 
they  are  called  by  the  Motu,  are  traded  from  the  Port  Moresby  district  westward 
to  the  Gulf  of  Papua.  Among  the  Motu  and  Koita,  near  Port  Moresby,  they 
are  highly  valued,  and  nowadays  attain  very  high  prices,  up  to  £30,  much  more 
than  is  paid  for  the  same  article  among  the  Massim. 


THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA  87 

There  is  a  manufacturing  centre  of  them  in  one  of  the  villages 
in  Port  Moresby,  and  also  in  several  places  in  Eastern  New 
Guinea,  notably  in  Rossell  Island,  and  in  the  Trobriands.  I 
have  said  "  use  "  on  purpose  here,  because  these  small  beads, 
each  of  them  a  flat,  round  disc  with  a  hole  in  the  centre, 
coloured  anything  from  muddy  brown  to  carmine  red,  are 
employed  in  various  ways  for  ornamentation  They  are  most 
generally  used  as  part  of  earrings,  made  of  rings  of  turtle  shell, 
which  are  attached  to  the  ear  lobe,  and  from  which  hang  a 
cluster  of  the  shell  discs.  These  earrings  are  very  much  worn, 
and,  especially  among  the  Massim,  you  see  them  on  the  ears 
of  every  second  man  or  woman,  while  others  are  satisfied  with 
turtle  shell  alone,  unornamented  with  the  shell  discs.  Another 
everyday  ornament,  frequently  met  with  and  worn,  especially 
by  young  girls  and  boys,  consists  of  a  short  necklace,  just 
encircling  the  neck,  made  of  the  red  spondylus  discs,  with  one 
or  more  cowrie  shell  pendants.  These  shell  discs  can  be,  and 
often  are,  used  in  the  make-up  of  the  various  classes  of  the 
more  elaborate  ornaments,  worn  on  festive  occasions  only. 
Here,  however,  we  are  more  especially  concerned  with  the  very 
long  necklaces,  measuring  from  two  to  five  metres,  made  of 
spondylus  discs,  of  which  there  are  two  main  varieties,  one, 
much  the  finer,  with  a  big  shell  pendant,  the  other  made  of 
bigger  discs,  and  with  a  few  cowrie  shells  or  black  banana  seeds 
in  the  centre  (see  Plate  XVIII). 

The  arm-shells  on  the  one  hand,  and  the  long  spondylus 
shell  strings  on  the  other,  the  two  main  Kula  articles,  are 
primarily  ornaments.  As  such,  they  are  used  with  the  most 
elaborate  dancing  dress  only,  and  on  very  festive  occasions 
such  as  big  ceremonial  dances,  great  feasts,  and  big  gatherings, 
where  several  villages  are  represented,  as  can  be  seen  in  Plate  VI. 
Never  could  they  be  used  as  everyday  ornaments,  nor  on 
occasions  of  minor  importance,  such  as  a  small  dance  in  the 
village,  a  harvest  gathering,  a  love-making  expedition,  when 
facial  painting,  floral  decoration  and  smaller  though  not  quite 
everyday  ornaments  are  worn  (see  Plates  XII  and  XIII). 
But  even  though  usable  and  sometimes  used,  this  is  not  the 
main  function  of  these  articles.  Thus,  a  chief  may  have 
several  shell  strings  in  his  possession,  and  a  few  arm-shells. 
Supposing  that  a  big  dance  is  held  in  his  or  in  a  neighbouring 
village,  he  will  not  put  on  his  ornaments  himself  if  he  goes  to 


88  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

assist  at  it,  unless  he  intends  to  dance  and  decorate  himself, 
but  any  of  his  relatives,  his  children  or  his  friends  and  even 
vassals,  can  have  the  use  of  them  for  the  asking.  If  you  go 
to  a  feast  or  a  dance  where  there  are  a  number  of  men  wearing 
such  ornaments,  and  ask  anyone  of  them  at  random  to  whom  it 
belongs,  the  chances  are  that  more  than  half  of  them  will 
answer  that  they  themselves  are  not  the  owners,  but  that  they 
had  the  articles  lent  to  them.  These  objects  are  not  owned  in 
order  to  be  used  ;  the  privilege  of  decorating  oneself  with  them 
is  not  the  real  aim  of  possession. 

Indeed — and  this  is  more  significant — by  far  the  greater 
number  of  the  arm-shells,  easily  ninety  per  cent.,  are  of  too 
small  a  size  to  be  worn  even  by  young  boys  and  girls.  A  few 
are  so  big  and  valuable  that  they  would  not  be  worn  at  all, 
except  once  in  a  decade  by  a  very  important  man  on  a  very 
festive  day.  Though  all  the  shell-strings  can  be  worn,  some  of 
them  are  again  considered  too  valuable,  and  are  cumbersome 
for  frequent  use,  and  would  be  worn  on  very  exceptional 
occasions  only. 

This  negative  description  leaves  us  with  the  questions  : 
why,  then,  are  these  objects  valued,  what  purpose  do  they 
serve  ?  The  full  answer  to  this  question  will  emerge  out  of  the 
whole  story  contained  in  the  following  chapters,  but  an 
approximate  idea  must  be  given  at  once.  As  it  is  always 
better  to  approach  the  unknown  through  the  known,  let  us 
consider  for  a  moment  whether  among  ourselves  we  have  not 
some  type  of  objects  which  play  a  similar  role  and  which  are 
used  and  possessed  in  the  same  manner.  When,  after  a  six 
years1  absence  in  the  South  Seas  and  Australia,  I  returned  to 
Europe  and  did  my  first  bit  of  sight-seeing  in  Edinburgh  Castle, 
I  was  shown  the  Crown  jewels.  The  keeper  told  many  stories 
of  how  they  were  worn  by  this  or  that  king  or  queen  on  such 
and  such  occasion,  of  how  some  of  them  had  been  taken  over 
to  London,  to  the  great  and  just  indignation  of  the  whole 
Scottish  nation,  how  they  were  restored,  and  how  now  everyone 
can  be  pleased,  since  they  are  safe  under  lock  and  key,  and  no 
one  can  touch  them.  As  I  was  looking  at  them  and  thinking 
how  ugly,  useless,  ungainly,  even  tawdry  they  were,  I  had  the 
feeling  that  something  similar  had  been  told  to  me  of  late,  and 
that  I  had  seen  many  other  objects  of  this  sort,  which  made  a 
similar  impression  on  me. 


PLATE  XVIII 


TWO  NECKLACES,  MADE  OF  RED  SPONDYLUS 
DISCS 

On  the  left,  the  soulava,  or  bagl,  the  real  Kula  article.  On 
the  right,  the  katudababile  (or  samakupa,  as  it  is  called  among 
the  Southern  Massim),  made  of  bigger  discs,  manufactured 
in  the  villages  of  Sinakcta  and  Vakuta  (Trobriand  Islands). 
This  latter  article  does  not  play  any  important  part  in  the 
Kula.  (See  Div.  Ill :  Ch.  XIV,  Div.  II  :  Ch.  XV,  Divs. 
II  and  III.) 


THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA  89 

And  then  arose  before  me  the  vision  of  a  native  village  on 
coral  soil,  ond  a  small,  rickety  platform  temporarily  erected 
under  a  pandanus  thatch,  surrounded  by  a  number  of  brown, 
naked  men,  and  one  of  them  showing  me  long,  thin  red  strings, 
and  big,  white,  worn-out  objects,  clumsy  to  sight  and  greasy 
to  touch.  With  reverence  he  also  would  name  them,  and  tell 
their  history,  and  by  whom  and  when  they  were  worn,  and  how 
they  changed  hands,  and  how  their  temporary  possession  was 
a  great  sign  of  the  importance  and  glory  of  the  village.  The 
analogy  between  the  European  and  the  Trobriand  vaygu'a 
(valuables)  must  be  delimited  with  more  precision.  The 
Crown  Jewels,  in  fact,  any  heirlooms  too  valuable  and  too 
cumbersome  to  be  worn,  represent  the  same  type  as  vaygu'a 
in  that  they  are  merely  possessed  for  the  sake  of  possession 
itself,  and  the  ownership  of  them  with  the  ensuing  renown  is 
the  main  source  of  their  value.  Also  both  heirlooms  and 
vaygu'a  are  cherished  because  of  the  historical  sentiment 
which  surrounds  them.  However  ugly,  useless,  and — according 
to  current  standards — valueless  an  object  may  be,  if  it  has 
figured  in  historical  scenes  and  passed  through  the  hands  of 
historic  persons,  and  is  therefore  an  unfailing  vehicle  of  import- 
ant sentimental  associations,  it  cannot  but  be  precious  to  us. 
This  historic  sentimentalism,  which  indeed  has  a  large  share 
in  our  general  interest  in  studies  of  past  events,  exists  also  in 
the  South  Seas.  Every  really  good  Kula  article  has  its  individual 
name,  round  each  there  is  a  sort  of  history  and  romance  in  the 
traditions  of  the  natives.  Crown  jewels  or  heirlooms  are 
insignia  of  rank  and  symbols  of  wealth  respectively,  and  in 
olden  days  with  us,  and  in  New  Guinea  up  till  a  few  years 
ago,  both  rank  and  wealth  went  together.  The  main  point 
of  difference  is  that  the  Kula  goods  are  only  in  possession  for 
a  time,  whereas  the  European  treasure  must  be  permanently 
owned  in  order  to  have  full  value. 

Taking  a  broader,  ethnological  view  of  the  question,  we 
may  class  the  Kula  valuables  among  the  many  "  ceremonial  " 
objects  of  wealth  ;  enormous,  carved  and  decorated  weapons, 
stone  implements,  articles  of  domestic  and  industrial  nature, 
too  well  decorated  and  too  clumsy  for  use.  Such  things  are 
usually  called  "  ceremonial,"  but  this  word  seems  to  cover  a 
great  number  of  meanings  and  much  that  has  no  meaning  at 
all.  In  fact,  very  often,  especially  on  museum  labels,  an  article 


90  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

is  called  "  ceremonial  "  simply  because  nothing  is  .known  about 
its  uses  and  general  nature.  Speaking  only  about  museum 
exhibits  from  New  Guinea,  I  can  say  that  many  so-called 
ceremonial  objects  are  nothing  but  simply  overgrown  objects 
of  use,  which  preciousness  of  material  and  amount  of  labour 
expended  have  transformed  into  reservoirs  of  condensed 
economic  value.  Again,  others  are  used  on  festive  occasions, 
but  play  no  part  whatever  in  rites  and  ceremonies,  and  serve 
for  decoration  only,  and  these  might  be  called  objects  of  parade 
(comp.  Chap  VI,  Div.  I).  Finally,  a  number  of  these  articles 
function  actually  as  instruments  of  a  magical  or  religious  rite, 
and  belong  to  the  intrinsic  apparatus  of  a  ceremony.  Such 
and  such  only  could  be  correctly  called  ceremonial.  During 
the  So'i  feasts  among  the  Southern  Massim,  women  carrying 
polished  axe  blades  in  fine  carved  handles,  accompany  with 
a  rythmic  step  to  the  beat  of  drums,  the  entry  of  the  pigs  and 
mango  saplings  into  the  village  (see  Plates  V  and  VI).  As 
this  is  part  of  the  ceremony  and  the  axes  are  an  indispensable 
accessory,  their  use  in  this  case  can  be  legitimately  called 
"  ceremonial.'*  Again,  in  certain  magical  ceremonies  in  the 
Trobriands,  the  towosi  (garden  magician)  has  to  carry  a  mounted 
axe  blade  on  his  shoulders,  and  with  it  he  delivers  a  ritual  blow 
at  a  kamkokola  structure  (see  Plate  LIX;  compare  Chapter  II, 
Division  IV). 

The  vaygu'a — the  Kula  valuables — in  one  of  their 
aspects  are  overgrown  objects  of  use.  They  are  also, 
however,  ceremonial  objects  in  the  narrow  and  correct 
sense  of  the  word.  This  will  become  clear  after  perusal 
of  the  following  pages,  and  to  this  point  we  shall  return 
in  the  last  chapter. 

It  must  be  kept  in  mind  that  here  we  are  trying  to  obtain  a 
clear  and  vivid  idea  of  what  the  Kula  valuables  are  to  the 
natives,  and  not  to  give  a  detailed  and  circumstantial  descrip- 
tion of  them,  nor  to  define  them  with  precision.  The  comparison 
with  the  European  heirlooms  or  Crown  jewels  was  given  in 
order  to  show  that  this  type  of  ownership  is  not  entirely  a 
fantastic  South  Sea  custom,  untranslatable  into  our  ideas. 
For — and  this  is  a  point  I  want  to  stress — the  comparison  I 
have  made  is  not  based  on  purely  external,  superficial 
similarity.  The  psychological  and  sociological  forces  at  work 
are  the  same,  it  is  really  the  same  mental  attitude  which 


THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA  91 

makes  us  value  our  heirlooms,  and  makes  the  natives  in  New 
Guinea  value  their  vaygu'a. 

IV 

The  exchange  of  these  two  classes  of  vaygu'a,  of  the  arm- 
shells  and  the  necklaces,  constitutes  the  main  act  of  the  Kula. 
This  exchange  is  not  done  freely,  right  and  left,  as  opportunity 
offers,  and  where  the  whim  leads.  It  is  subject  indeed  to 
strict  limitations  and  regulations.  One  of  these  refers  to  the 
sociology  of  the  exchange,  and  entails  that  Kula  transactions 
can  be  done  only  between  partners.  A  man  who  is  in  the  Kula 
— for  not  everyone  within  its  district  is  entitled  to  carry  it  on 
— has  only  a  limited  number  of  people  with  whom  he  does  it. 
This  partnership  is  entered  upon  in  a  definite  manner,  under 
fulfilment  of  certain  formalities,  and  it  constitutes  a  life-long 
relationship.  The  number  of  partners  a  man  has  varies  with 
his  rank  and  importance.  A  commoner  in  the  Trobriands 
would  have  a  few  partners  only,  whereas  a  chief  would  num- 
ber hundreds  of  them.  There  is  no  special  social  mechanism 
to  limit  the  partnership  of  some  people  and  extend  that  of  the 
others,  but  a  man  would  naturally  know  to  what  number  of 
partners  he  was  entitled  by  his  rank  and  position.  And  there 
would  be  always  the  example  of  his  immediate  ancestors  to 
guide  him.  In  other  tribes,  where  the  distinction  of  rank  is 
not  so  pronounced,  an  old  man  of  standing,  or  a  headman 
of  a  hamlet  or  village  would  also  have  hundreds  of  Kula 
associates,  whereas  a  man  of  minor  importance  would  have 
but  few. 

Two  Kula  partners  have  to  kula  with  one  another,  and 
exchange  other  gifts  incidentally  ;  they  behave  as  friends,  and 
have  a  number  of  mutual  duties  and  obligations,  which  vary 
with  the  distance  between  their  villages  and  with  their 
reciprocal  status.  An  average  man  has  a  few  partners  near  by, 
as  a  rule  his  relations-in-law  or  his  friends,  and  with  these 
partners,  he  is  generally  on  very  friendly  terms.  The  Kula 
partnership  is  one  of  the  special  bonds  which  unite  two  men 
into  one  of  the  standing  relations  of  mutual  exchange  of  gifts 
and  services  so  characteristic  of  these  natives.  Again,  the 
average  man  will  have  one  or  two  chiefs  in  his  or  in  the  neigh- 
bouring districts  with  whom  he  kulas.  In  such  a  case,  he 
would  be  bound  to  assist  and  serve  them  in  various  ways,  an<i 


92  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

to  offer  them  the  pick  of  his  vaygu'a  when  he  gets  a  fresh 
supply.  On  the  other  hand  he  would  expect  them  to  be 
specially  liberal  to  htm. 

The  overseas  partner  is,  on  the  other  hand,  a  host,  patron 
and  aUy  in  a  land  of  danger  and  insecurity.  Nowadays, 
though  the  feeling  of  danger  still  persists,  and  natives  never 
feel  safe  and  comfortable  in  a  strange  district,  this 'danger  is 
rather  felt  as  a  magical  one,  and  it  is  more  the  fear  of  foreign 
sorcery  that  besets  them.  In  olden  days,  more  tangible  dangers 
were  apprehended,  and  the  partner  was  the  main  guarantee  of 
safety.  He  also  provides  with  food,  gives  presents?  and 
his  house,  though  never  used  to  sleep  in,  is  the  place  in  which 
to  foregather  while  in  the  village.  Thus  the  Kula  partnership 
provides  every  man  within  its  ring  with  a  few  friends  near  at 
hand,  and  with  some  friendly  allies  in  the  far-away,  dangerous, 
foreign  districts.  These  are  the  only  people  with  whom  he 
can  kula,  but,  of  course,  amongst  all  his  partners,  he  is  free  to 
choose  to  which  one  he  will  offer  which  object. 

Let  us  now  try  to  cast  a  broad  glance  at  the  cumulative 
effects  of  the  rules  of  partnership.  We  see  that  all  around  the 
ring  of  Kula  there  is  a  network  of  relationships,  and  that 
naturally  the  whole  forms  one  interwoven  fabric.  Men  living 
at  hundreds  of  miles'  sailing  distance  from  one  another  are 
bound  together  by  direct  or  intermediate  partnership,  exchange 
with  each  other,  know  of  each  other,  and  on  certain  occasions 
meet  in  a  large  intertribal  gathering  (Plate  XX).  Objects 
given  by  one,  in  time  reach  some  very  distant  indirect  partner 
or  other,  and  not  only  Kula  objects,  but  various  articles  of 
domestic  use  and  minor  gifts.  It  is  easy  to  see  that  in  the  long 
run,  not  only  objects  of  material  culture,  but  also  customs, 
songs,  art  motives  and  general  cultural  influences  travel  along 
the  Kula  route.  It  is  a  vast,  inter-tribal  net  of  relationships, 
a  big  institution,  consisting  of  thousands  of  men,  all  bound 
together  by  one  common  passion  for  Kula  exchange,  and 
secondarily,  by  many  minor  ties  and  interests. 

Returning  again  to  the  personal  aspect  of  the  Kula,  let  us 
take  a  concrete  example,  that  of  an  average  man  who  lives,  let 
us  assume,  in  the  village  of  Sinaketa,  an  important  Kula  centre 
in  the  Southern  Trobriands.  He  has  a  few  partners,  near  and 
far,  but  they  again  fall  into  categories,  those  who  give  him 
arm-shells,  and  those  who  give  him  necklaces.  For  it  is 


THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA  93 

naturally  an  invariable  rule  of  the  Kula  that  arm-shells  and 
necklaces  are  never  received  from  the  same  man,  since  they  must 
travel  in  different  directions.  If  one  partner  gives  the  arm- 
shells,  and  I  return  to  him  a  necklace,  all  future  operations 
have  to  be  of  the  same  type.  More  than  that,  the  nature  of 
the  operation  between  me,  the  man  of  Sinaketa,  and  my 
partner,  is  determined  by  our  relative  positions  with  regard  to 
the  points  of  the  compass.  Thus  I,  in  Sinaketa,  would  receive 
from  the  North  and  East  only  arm-shells  ;  from  the  South  and 
West,  necklaces  are  given  to  me.  If  I  have  a  near  partner 
next  door  to  me,  if  his  abode  is  North  or  East  of  mine,  he  will 
always  be  giving  me  arm-shells  and  receiving  necklaces  from 
me.  If,  at  a  later  time  he  were  to  shift  his  residence  within  the 
village,  the  old  relationship  would  obtain,  but  if  he  became  a 
member  of  another  village  community  on  the  other  side  of  me 
the  relationship  would  be  reversed.  The  partners  in  villages 
to  the  North  of  Sinaketa,  in  the  district  of  Luba,  Kulumata,  or 
Kiriwina  all  supply  me  with  arm-shells.  These  I  hand  over  to 
my  partners  in  the  South,  and  receive  from  them  necklaces. 
The  South  in  this  case  means  the  southern  districts  of  Boyowa, 
as  well  as  the  Amphletts  and  Dobu. 

Thus  every  man  has  to  obey  definite  rules  as  to  the  geo- 
graphical direction  of  his  transactions.  At  any  point  in  the 
Kula  ring,  if  we  imagine  him  turned  towards  the  centre  of  the 
circle,  he  receives  the  arm-shells  with  his  left  hand,  and  the 
necklaces  with  his  right,  and  then  hands  them  both  on.  In 
other  words,  he  constantly  passes  the  arm-shells  from  left  to. 
right,  and  the  necklaces  from  right  to  left. 

Applying  this  rule  of  personal  conduct  to  the  whole  Kula 
ring,  we  can  see  at  once  what  the  aggregate  result  is.  The  sum 
total  of  exchanges  will  not  result  in  an  aimless  shifting  of  the 
two  classes  of  article,  in  a  fortuitous  come  and  go  of  the  arm- 
shells  and  necklaces.  Two  continuous  streams  will  constantly 
flow  on,  the  one  of  necklaces  following  the  hands  of  a  clock, 
and  the  other,  composed  of  the  arm-shells,  in  the  opposite 
direction.  We  see  thus  that  it  is  quite  correct  to  speak  of  the 
circular  exchange  of  the  Kula,  of  a  ring  or  circuit  of  moving 
articles  (comp.  Map  V).  On  this  ring,  all  the  villages  are 
placed  in  a  definitely  fixed  position  with  regard  to  one  another, 
so  that  one  is  always  on  either  the  arm-shell  or  on  the  necklace 
side  of  the  other. 


94  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

Now  we  pass  to  another  rule  of  the  Kula,  of  the  greatest 
importance.  As  just  explained  "  the  armshells  and  shell- 
strings  always  travel  in  their  own  respective  directions  on  the 
ring,  and  they  are  never,  under  any  circumstances,  traded  back 
in  the  wrong  direction.  Also,  they  never  stop.  It  seems 
almost  incredible  at  first,  but  it  is  the  fact,  nevertheless,  that 
no  one  ever  keeps  any  of  the  Kula  valuables  for  any4ength  of 
time.  Indeed,  in  the  whole  of  the  Trobriands  there  are 
perhaps  only  one  or  two  specially  fine  armshells  and  shell- 
necklaces  permanently  owned  as  heirlooms,  and  these  are  set 
apart  as  a  special  class,  and  are  once  and  for  all  out  of  the 
Kula.  '  Ownership,'  therefore,  in  Kula,  is  quite  a  special 
economic  relation.  A  man  who  is  in  the  Kula  never  keeps  any 
article  for  longer  than,  say,  a  year  or  two.  Even  this  exposes 
him  to  the  reproach  of  being  niggardly,  and  certain  districts 
have  the  bad  reputation  of  being  '  slow  '  and  '  hard  '  in  the 
Kula.  On  the  other  hand,  each  man  has  an  enormous  number 
of  articles  passing  through  his  hands  during  his  life  time,  of 
which  he  enjoys  a  temporary  possession,  and  which  he  keeps  in 
trust  for  a  time.  This  possession  hardly  ever  makes  him  use 
the  articles,  and  he  remains  under  the  obligation  soon  again 
to  hand  them  on  to  one  of  his  partners.  But  the  temporary 
ownership  allows  him  to  draw  a  great  deal  of  renown,  to 
exhibit  his  article,  to  tell  how  he  obtained  it,  and  to  plan  to 
whom  he  is  going  to  give  it.  And  all  this  forms  one  of  the 
favourite  subjects  of  tribal  conversation  and  gossip,  in  which 
the  feats  and  the  glory  in  Kula  of  chiefs  or  commoners  are 
constantly  discussed  and  re-discussed/'*  Thus  every  article 
moves  in  one  direction  only,  never  comes  back,  never  per- 
manently stops,  and  takes  as  a  rule  some  two  to  ten  years  to 
make  the  round. 

This  feature  of  the  Kula  is  perhaps  its  most  remarkable  one, 
since  it  creates  a  new  type  of  ownership,  and  places  the  two 
Kula  articles  in  a  class  of  their  own.  Here  we  can  return  to 
the  comparison  drawn  between  the  vaygu'a  (Kiriwinian 
valuables)  and  the  European  heirlooms.  This  comparison 
broke  down  on  one  point :  in  the  European  objects  of  this  class, 
permanent  ownership,  lasting  association  with  the  hereditary 
dignity  or  rank  or  with  a  family,  is  one  of  its  main  features. 

*  This  and  the  following  quotations  are  from  the  Author's  preliminary 
article  on  the  Kula  in  Man,  July,   1920.    Article  number  51,  p.  100. 


THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA  95 

In  this  the  Kula  articles  differ  from  heirlooms,  but  resemble 
another  type  of  valued  object,  that  is,  trophies,  gauges  of 
superiority,  sporting  cups,  objects  which  are  kept  for  a  time 
only  by  the  winning  party,  whether  a  group  or  an  individual. 
Though  held  only  in  trust,  only  for  a  period,  though  never  used 
in  any  utilitarian  way,  yet  the  holders  get  from  them  a  special 
type  of  pleasure  by  the  mere  fact  of  owning  them,  of  being 
entitled  to  them.  Here  again,  it  is  not  only  a  superficial, 
external  resemblance,  but  very  much  the  same  mental  attitude, 
favoured  by  similar  social  arrangements.  The  resemblance 
goes  so  far  that  in  the  Kula  there  exists  also  the  element  of 
pride  in  merit,  an  element  which  forms  the  main  ingredient 
in  the  pleasure  felt  by  a  man  or  group  holding  a  trophy. 
Success  in  Kula  is  ascribed  to  special,  personal  power,  due 
mainly  to  magic,  and  men  are  very  proud  of  it.  Again,  the 
whole  community  glories  in  a  specially  fine  Kula  trophy, 
obtained  by  one  of  its  members. 

All  the  rules  so  far  enumerated — looking  at  them  from  the 
individual  point  of  view — limit  the  social  range  and  the 
direction  of  the  transactions  as  well  as  the  duration  of  owner- 
ship of  the  articles.  Looking  at  them  from  the  point  of  view 
of  their  integral  effect,  they  shape  the  general  outline  of  the 
Kula,  give  it  the  character  of  the  double-closed  circuit.  Now 
a  few  words  must  be  said  about  the  nature  of  each  individual 
transaction,  in  so  far  as  its  commercial  technicalities  are 
concerned.  Here  very  definite  rules  also  obtain. 


The  main  principle  underlying  the  regulations  of  actual 
exchange  is  that  the  Kula  consists  in  the  bestowing  of  a 
ceremonial  gift,  which  has  to  be  repaid  by  an  equivalent 
counter-gift  after  a  lapse  of  time,  be  it  a  few  hours  or  even 
minutes,  though  sometimes  as  much  as  a  year  or  more  may 
elapse  between  payments.*  But  it  can  never  be  exchanged 
from  hand  to  hand,  with  the  equivalence  between  the  two 
objects  discussed,  bargained  about  and  computed.  The 
decorum  of  the  Kula  transaction  is  strictly  kept,  and  highly 

*  In  order  not  to  be  guilty  of  inconsistency  in  using  loosely  the  word 
"  ceremonial  "  I  shall  define  it  briefly.  I  shall  call  an  action  ceremonial,  if  it 
is  (i)  public ;  (2)  carried  on  under  observance  of  definite  formalities ;  (3)  if 
it  has  sociological,  religious,  or  magical  import,  and  carries  with  it  obligations. 


96  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

valued.  The  natives  sharply  distinguish  it  from  barter,  which 
they  practise  extensively,  of  which  they  have  a  clear  idea,  and 
for  which  they  have  a  settled  term — in  Kiriwinian  :  gimwali. 
Often,  when  criticising  an  incorrect,  too  hasty,  or  indecorous 
procedure  of  Kula,  they  will  say  :  "  He  conducts  his  Kula  as 
if  it  were  gimwali." 

The  second  very  important  principle  is  that  the  equivalence 
of  the  counter-gift  is  left  to  the  giver,  and  it  cannot  be  enforced 
by  any  kind  of  coercion.  A  partner  who  has  received  a  Kula 
gift  is  expected  to  give  back  fair  and  full  value,  that  is,  to 
give  as  good  an  arm-shell  as  the  necklace  he  receives,  or  vice 
versa.  Again,  a  very  fine  article  must  be  replaced  by  one  of 
equivalent  value,  and  not  by  several  minor  ones,  though 
intermediate  gifts  may  be  given  to  mark  time  before  the  real 
repayment  takes  place. 

If  the  article  given  as  counter-gift  is  not  equivalent,  the 
recipient  will  be  disappointed  and  angry,  but  he  has  no  direct 
means  of  redress,  no  means  of  coercing  his  partner,  or  of 
putting  an  end  to  the  whole  transaction.  What  then  are  the 
forces  at  work  which  keep  the  partners  to  the  terms  of  the 
bargain  ?  Here  we  come  up  against  a  very  important  feature 
of  the  native's  mental  attitude  towards  wealth  and  value. 
The  great  misconception  of  attributing  to  the  savage  a  pure 
economic  nature,  might  lead  us  to  reason  incorrectly  thus  : 
"  The  passion  of  acquiring,  the  loathing  to  lose  or  give  away, 
is  the  fundamental  and  most  primitive  element  in  man's 
attitude  to  wealth.  In  primitive  man,  this  primitive 
characteristic  will  appear  in  its  simplest  and  purest  form 
Grab  and  never  let  go  will  be  the  guiding  principle  of  his  life."* 
The  fundamental  error  in  this  reasoning  is  that  it  assumes 
that  "  primitive  man,"  as  represented  by  the  present-day 
savage,  lives,  at  least  in  economic  matters,  untrammelled  by 
conventions  and  social  restrictions.  Quite  the  reverse  is  the 
Wse  Although,  like  every  human  being,  the  Kula  native 
loves  to  possess  and  therefore  desires  to  acquire  and  dreads 
to  lose,  the  social  code  of  rules,  with  regard  to  give  and  take 
by  far  overrides  his  natural  acquisitive  tendency. 

*  This  is  not  a  fanciful  construction  of  what  an  erroneous  opinion  might 
be,  for  I  could  give  actual  examples  proving  that  such  opinions  have  jbeen 
set  forth,  but  as  I  am  not  giving  here  a  criticism  of  existing  theories  of  Primitive 
Economics,  I  do  not  want  to  overload  this  chapter  with  quotations. 


THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA  97 

This  social  code,  such  as  we  find  it  among  the  natives  of 
the  Kula  is,  however,  far  from  weakening  the  natural  desir- 
ability of  possession  ;  on  the  contrary,  it  lays  down  that  to 
possess  is  to  be  great,  and  that  wealth  is  the  .indispensable 
appanage  of  social  rank  and  attribute  of  personal  virtue. 
But  the  important  point  is  that  with  them  to  possess  is  to  give 
— and  here  the  natives  differ  from  us  notably.  A  man  who 
owns  a  thing  is  naturally  expected  to  share  it,  to  distribute 
it,  to  be  its  trustee  and  dispenser.  And  the  higher  the  rank 
the  greater  the  obligation.  A  chief  will  naturally  be  expected 
to  give  food  to  any  stranger,  visitor,  even  loiterer  from 
another  end  of  the  village.  He  will  be  expected  to  share  any 
of  the  betel-nut  or  tobacco  he  has  about  him.  So  that  a  man  of 
rank  will  have  to  hide  away  any  surplus  of  these  articles  which 
he  wants  to  preserve  for  his  further  use.  In  the  Eastern  end 
of  New  Guinea  a  type  of  large  basket,  with  three  layers, 
manufactured  in  the  Trobriands,  was  specially  popular  among 
people  of  consequence,  because  one  could  hide  away  one's 
small  treasures  in  the  lower  compartments.  Thus  the  main 
symptom  of  being  powerful  is  to  be  wealthy,  and  of  wealth  is 
to  be  generous.  Meanness,  indeed,  is  the  most  despised  vice, 
and  the  only  thing  about  which  the  natives  have  strong  moral 
views,  while  generosity  is  the  essence  of  goodness. 

This  moral  injunction  and  ensuing  habit  of  generosity, 
superficially  observed  and  misinterpreted,  is  responsible  for 
another  wide-spread  misconception,  that  of  the  primitive  com- 
munism of  savages.  This,  quite  as  much  as  the  diametrically 
opposed  figment  of  the  acquisitive  and  ruthlessly  tenacious 
native,  is  definitely  erroneous,  and  this  will  be  seen  with 
sufficient  clearness  in  the  following  chapters. 

Thus  the  fundamental  principle  of  the  natives'  moral  code 
in  this  matter  makes  a  man  do  his  fair  share  in  Kula  transaction 
and  the  more  important  he  is,  the  more  will  he  desire  to  shine 
by  his  generosity.  Noblesse  oblige  is  in  reality  the  social  norm 
regulating  their  conduct  This  does  not  mean  that  people  are 
always  satisfied,  and  that  there  are  no  squabbles  about  the 
transactions,  no  resentments  and  even  feuds.  It  is  obvious 
that,  however  much  a  man  may  want  to  give  a  good  equivalent 
for  the  object  received,  he  may  not  be  able  to  do  so.  And 
then,  as  there  is  always  a  keen  competition  to  be  the  most 
generous  giver,  a  man  who  has  received  less  than  he  gave  will 


98  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

not  Jceep  his  grievance  to  himself,  but  will  brag  about  his  own 
generosity  and  compare  it  to  his  partners  meanness  ;  the  other 
resents  it,  and  the  quarrel  is  ready  to  break  out.  But  it  is 
very  important  to  realise  that  there  is  no  actual  haggling,  no 
tendency  to  do  a  man  out  of  his  share.  The  giver  is  quite  as 
keen  as  the  receiver  that  the  gift  should  be  generous,  though 
for  different  reasons.  Then,  of  course,  there  is  the  important 
consideration  that  a  man  who  is  fair  and  generous  in  the  Kula 
will  attract  a  larger  stream  to  himself  than  a  mean  one. 

The  two  main  principles,  namely,  first  that  the  Kula  is  a 
gift  repaid  after  an  interval  of  time  by  a  counter-gift,  and  not 
a  bartering  ;  and  second,  that  the  equivalent  rests  with  the 
giver,  and  cannot  be  enforced,  nor  can  there  be  any  haggling 
or  going  back  on  the  exchange — these  underlie  all  the 
transactions.  A  concrete  outline  of  how  they  are  carried  on, 
will  give  a  sufficient  preliminary  idea, 

"  Let  us  suppose  that  I,  a  Sinaketa  man,  am  in  possession 
of  a  pair  of  big  armshells.  An  overseas  expedition  from  Dobu 
in  the  d'Entrecasteaux  Archipelago,  arrives  at  my  village. 
Blowing  a  conch  shell,  I  take  my  armshell  pair  and  I  offer  it 
to  my  overseas  partner,  with  some  such  words  as  '  This  is  a 
vaga  (opening  gift) — in  due  time,  thou  returnest  to  me  a  big 
soulava  (necklace)  for  it !  '  Next  year,  when  I  visit  my 
partner's  village,  he  either  is  in  possession  of  an  equivalent 
necklace,  and  this  he  gives  to  me  as  yotile  (return  gift),  or  he 
has  not  a  necklace  good  enough  to  repay  my  last  gift.  In  this 
case  he  will  give  me  a  small  necklace — avowedly  not  equivalent 
to  my  gift — and  he  will  give  it  to  me  as  basi  (intermediary  gift). 
This  means  that  the  main  gift  has  to  be  repaid  on  a  future 
occasion,  and  the  basi  is  given  in  token  of  good  faith — but  it, 
in  turn,  must  be  repaid  by  me  in  the  meantime  by  a  gift  of 
small  arm-shells.  The  final  gift,  which  will  be  given  to  me  to 
clinch  the  whole  transaction,  would  then  be  called  kudu 
(clinching  gift)  in  contrast  to  basi  "  (loc.  cit.,  p.  99). 

Although  haggling  and  bargaining  are  completely  ruled  out 
of  the  Kula,  there  are  customary  and  regulated  ways  of 
bidding  for  a  piece  of  vaygu'a  known  to  be  in  the  possession  of 
one's  partner.  This  is  done  by  the  offer  of  what  we  shall 
call  solicitary  gifts,  of  which  there  are  several  types.  "HI,  an 
inhabitant  of  Sinaketa,  happen  to  be  in  possession  of  a  pair  of 
arm-shells  more  than  usually  good,  the  fame  of  it  spreads,  for 


X 
X 


THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA  99 

it  must  be  remembered  that  each  one  of  the  first-class  arm- 
shells  and  necklaces  has  a  personal  name  and  a  history  of  its 
own,  and  as  they  circulate  around  the  big  ring  of  the  Kula, 
they  are  all  well  known,  and  their  appearance  in  a  given 
district  always  creates  a  sensation.  Now,  all  my  partners — 
whether  from  overseas  or  from  within  the  district — compete 
for  the  favour  of  receiving  this  particular  article  of  mine,  and 
those  who  are  specially  keen  try  to  obtain  it  by  giving  me 
pokala  (offerings)  and  kaributu  (solicit ary  gifts).  The  former 
(pokala)  consist  as  a  rule  of  pigs,  especially  fine  bananas,  and 
yams  or  taro  ;  the  latter  (kaributu)  are  of  greater  value  :  the 
valuable,  large  axe-blades  (called  beku),  or  lime  spoons  of  whale 
bone  are  given"  (loc.  cit,  p.  100).  The  further  complication 
in  the  repayment  of  these  solicitary  gifts  and  a  few  more 
technicalities  and  technical  expressions  connected  herewith 
will  be  given  later  on  in  Chapter  IV. 

VI 

I  have  enumerated  the  main  rules  of  the  Kula  in  a  manner 
sufficient  for  a  preliminary  definition,  and  now  a  few  words 
must  be  said  about  the  associated  activities  and  secondary 
aspects  of  the  Kula.  If  we  realise  that  at  times  the  exchange 
has  to  take  place  between  districts  divided  by  dangerous  seas, 
over  which  a  great  number  of  people  have  to  travel  by  sail, 
and  do  so  keeping  to  appointed  dates,  it  becomes  clear  at 
once  that  considerable  preparations  are  necessary  to  carry 
out  the  expedition.  Many  preliminary  activities  are  intimately 
associated  with  the  Kula.  Such  are,  particularly,  the  building 
of  canoes,  preparation  of  the  outfit,  the  provisioning  of  the 
expedition,  the  fixing  of  dates  and  social  organisation  of 
the  enterprise.  All  these  are  subsidiary  to  the  Kula,  and  as 
they  are  carried  on  in  pursuit  of  it,  and  form  one  connected 
series,  a  description  of  the  Kula  must  embrace  an  account 
of  these  preliminary  activities.  The  detailed  account  of  canoe 
building,  of  the  ceremonial  attached  to  it,  of  the  incidental 
magical  rites,  of  the  launching  and  trial  run,  of  the  associated 
customs  which  aim  at  preparing  the  outfit — all  this  will  be 
described  in  detail  in  the  next  few  chapters. 

Another  important  pursuit  inextricably  bound  up  with 
the  Kula,  is  that  of  the  secondary  trade.  Voyaging  to  far-off 
countries,  endowed  with  natural  resources  unknown  in  their 


loo  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

own  homes,  the  Kula  sailors  return  each  time  richly  laden  with 
these,  the  spoils  of  their  enterprise.  Again,  in  order  to  be  able 
to  offer  presents  to  his  partner,  every  outward  bound  canoe 
carries  a  cargo  of  such  things  as  are  known  to  be  most  desirable 
in  the  overseas  district.  Some  of  this  is  given  away  in  presents 
to  the  partners,  but  a  good  deal  is  carried  in  order  to  pay  for 
the  objects  desired  at  home.  In  certain  cases,  the  -visiting 
natives  exploit  on  their  own  account  during  the  journey  some 
of  the  natural  resources  overseas.  For  example,  the 
Sinaketans  dive  for  the  spondylus  in  Sanaroa  Lagoon,  and  the 
Dobuans  fish  in  the  Trobriands  on  a  beach  on  the  southern 
end  of  the  island.  The  secondary  trade  is  complicated  still 
more  by  the  fact  that  such  big  Kula  centres  as,  for  instance, 
Sinaketa,  are  not  efficient  in  any  of  the  industries  of  special 
value  to  the  Dobuans.  Thus,  Sinaketans  have  to  procure  the 
necessary  store  of  goods  from  the  inland  villages  of  Kuboma,  and 
this  they  do  on  minor  trading  expeditions  preliminary  to  the 
Kula.  Like  the  canoe-building,  the  secondary  trading  will  be 
described  in  detail  later  on,  and  has  only  to  be  mentioned  here. 
Here,  however,  these  subsidiary  and  associated  activities 
must  be  put  in  proper  relation  with  regard  to  one  another  and 
to  the  main  transaction.  Both  the  canoe-building  and  the 
ordinary  trade  have  been  spoken  of  as  secondary  or  subsidiary 
to  the  Kula  proper.  This  requires  a  comment.  I  do  not,  by 
thus  subordinating  the  two  things  in  importance  to  the  Kula, 
mean  to  express  a  philosophical  reflection  or  a  personal 
opinion  as  to  the  relative  value  of  these  pursuits  from  the  point 
of  view  of  some  social  teleology.  Indeed,  it  is  clear  that  if  we 
look  at  the  acts  from  the  outside,  as  comparative  sociologists, 
and  gauge  their  real  utility,  trade  and  canoe-building  will 
appear  to  us  as  the  really  important  achievements,  whereas  we 
shall  regard  the  Kula  only  as  an  indirect  stimulus,  impelling 
the  natives  to  sail  and  to  trade.  Here,  however,  I  am  not 
dealing  in  sociological,  but  in  pure  ethnographical  description, 
and  any  sociological  analysis  I  have  given  is  only  what  has 
been  absolutely  indispensable  to  clear  away  misconceptions 
and  to  define  terms.* 

*  It  is  hardly  necessary  perhaps  to  make  it  quite  clear  that  all  questions 
of  origins,  of  development  or  history  of  the  institutions  have  been  rigorously 
ruled  out  of  this  work.  The  mixing  up  of  speculative  or  hypothetical  views 
with  an  account  of  facts  is,  in  my  opinion  an  unpardonable  sin  against  ethno- 
graphic method. 


THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA  101 

By  ranging  the  Kula  as  the  primary  and  chief  activity, 
and  the  rest  as  secondary  ones,  I  mean  that  this  precedence  is 
implied  in  the  institutions  themselves.  By  studying  the 
behaviour  of  the  natives  and  all  the  customs  in  question,  we 
see  that  the  Kula  is  in  all  respects  the  main  aim  :  the  dates 
are  fixed,  the  preliminaries  settled,  the  expeditions  arranged, 
the  social  organisation  determined,  not  with  regard  to  trade, 
but  with  regard  to  Kula.  On  an  expedition,  the  big  ceremonial 
feast,  held  at  the  start,  refers  to  the  Kula  ;  the  final  ceremony 
of  reckoning  and  counting  the  spoil  refers  to  Kula,  not  to  the 
objects  of  trade  obtained.  Finally,  the  magic,  which  is  one  of 
the  main  factors  of  all  the  procedure,  refers  only  to  the  Kula, 
and  this  applies  even  to  a  part  of  the  magic  carried  out  over 
the  canoe.  Some  rites  in  the  whole  cycle  are  done  for  the  sake 
of  the  canoe  itself,  and  others  for  the  sake  of  Kula.  The 
construction  of  the  canoes  is  always  carried  on  directly  in 
connection  with  a  Kula  expedition.  All  this,  of  course,  will 
become  really  clear  and  convincing  only  after  the  detailed 
account  is  given.  But  it  was  necessary  at  this  point  to  set  the 
right  perspective  in  the  relation  between  the  main  Kula  and  the 
trade. 

Of  course  not  only  many  of  the  surrounding  tribes  who 
know  nothing  of  the  Kula  do  build  canoes  and  sail  far  and 
daringly  on  trading  expeditions,  but  even  within  the  Kula 
ring,  in  the  Trobriands  for  instance,  there  are  several  villages 
who  do  not  kula,  yet  have  canoes  and  carry  on  energetic 
overseas  trade.  But  where  the  Kula  is  practised,  it  governs 
all  the  other  allied  activities,  and  canoe  building  and  trade  are 
made  subsidiary  to  it.  And  this  is  expressed  both  by  the 
nature  of  the  institutions  and  the  working  of  all  the  arrange- 
ments on  the  one  hand,  and  by  the  behaviour  and  explicit 
statements  of  the  natives  on  the  other. 

The  Kula — it  becomes,  I  hope,  more  and  more  clear — is 
a  big,  complicated  institution,  insignificant  though  its  nucleus 
might  appear.  To  the  natives,  it  represents  one  of  the  most 
vital  interests  in  life,  and  as  such  it  has  a  ceremonial  character 
and  is  surrounded  by  magic.  We  can  well  imagine  that 
articles  of  wealth  might  pass  from  hand  to  hand  without 
ceremony  or  ritual,  but  in  the  Kula  they  never  do.  Even 
when  at  times  only  small  parties  in  one  or  two  canoes  sail 
overseas  and  bring  back  vaygu'a,  certain  taboos  are  observed, 


102  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

and  a  customary  course  is  taken  in  departing,  in  sailing,  and  in 
arriving  ;  even  the  smallest  expedition  in  one  canoe  is  a  tribal 
event  of  some  importance,  known  and  spoken  of  over  the  whole 
district.  But  the  characteristic  expedition  is  one  in  which  a 
considerable  number  of  canoes  take  part,  organised  in  a  certain 
manner,  and  forming  one  body.  Feasts,  distributions  of  food, 
and  other  public  ceremonies  are  held,  there  is  one  leader  and 
master  of  the  expedition,  and  various  rules  are  adhered  to,  in 
addition  to  the  ordinary  Kula  taboos  and  observances. 

The  ceremonial  nature  of  the  Kula  is  strictly  bound  up 
with  another  of  its  aspects — magic.  "  The  belief  in  the 
efficiency  of  magic  dominates  the  Kula,  as  it  does  ever  so  many 
other  tribal  activities  of  the  natives.  Magical  rites  must  be 
performed  over  the  sea-going  canoe  when  it  is  built,  in  order 
to  make  it  swift,  steady  and  safe  ;  also  magic  is  done  over  a 
canoe  to  make  it  lucky  in  the  Kula.  Another  system  of 
magical  rites  is  done  in  order  to  avert  the  dangers  of  sailing. 
The  third  system  of  magic  connected  with  overseas  expeditions 
is  the  mwasila  or  the  Kula  magic  proper.  This  system  consists 
in  numerous  rites  and  spells,  all  of  which  act  directly  on  the 
mind  (nanola)  of  one's  partner,  and  make  him  soft,  unsteady 
in  mind,  and  eager  to  give  Kula  gifts  "  (Joe.  cit.,  p.  100). 

It  is  clear  than  an  institution  so  closely  associated  with 
magical  and  ceremonial  elements,  as  is  the  Kula,  not  only 
rests  on  a  firm,  traditional  foundation,  but  also  has  its  large 
store  of  legends.  "  There  is  a  rich  mythology  of  the  Kula, 
in  which  stories  are  told  about  far-off  times  when  mythical 
ancestors  sailed  on  distant  and  daring  expeditions.  Owing  to 
their  magical  knowledge  they  were  able  to  escape  dangers, 
to  conquer  their  enemies,  to  surmount  obstacles,  and  by  their 
feats  they  established  many  a  precedent  which  is  now  closely 
followed  by  tribal  custom.  But  their  importance  for  their 
descendants  lies  mainly  in  the  fact  that  they  handed  on  their 
magic,  and  this  made  the  Kula  possible  for  the  following 
generations11  (loc.  cit.,  p.  100). 

The  Kula  is  also  associated  in  certain  districts,  to  which 
the  Trobriands  do  not  belong,  with  the  mortuary  feasts, 
called  so'i.  The  association  is  interesting  and  important, 
and  in  Chapter  XX  an  account  of  it  will  be  given. 

The  big  Kula  expeditions  are  carried  on  by  a  great  number 
of  natives,  a  whole  district  together.  But  the  geographical 


THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA  103 

limits,  from  which  the  members  of  an  expedition  are  recruited, 
are  well  defined.  Glancing  at  Map  V,  "we  see  a  number  of 
circles,  each  of  which  represents  a  certain  sociological  unit 
which  we  shall  call  a  Kula  community.  A  Kula  community 
consists  of  a  village  or  a  number  of  villages,  who  go  out 
together  on  big  overseas  expeditions,  and  who  act  as  a  body 
in  the  Kula  transactions,  perform  their  magic  in  common, 
have  common  leaders,  and  have  the  same  outer  and  inner 
social  sphere,  within  which  they  exchange  their  valuables. 
The  Kula  consists,  therefore,  first  of  the  small,  internal 
transactions  within  a  Kula  community  or  contiguous  com- 
munities, and  secondly,  of  the  big  over-seas  expeditions  in 
which  the  exchange  of  articles  takes  place  between  two 
communities  divided  by  sea.  In  the  first,  there  is  a  chronic, 
permanent  trickling  of  articles  from  one  village  to  another, 
and  even  within  the  village.  In  the  second,  a  whole  lot  of 
valuables,  amounting  to  over  a  thousand  articles  at  a  time, 
are  exchanged  in  one  enormous  transaction,  or,  more  correctly, 
in  ever  so  many  transactions  taking  place  simultaneously  " 
(loc.  cit.,  p.  101).  "The  Kula  trade  consists  of  a  series  of 
such  periodical  overseas  expeditions,  which  link  together  the 
various  island  groups,  and  annually  bring  over  big  quantities 
of  vaygu'a  and  of  subsidiary  trade  from  one  district  to  another. 
The  trade  is  used  and  used  up,  but  the  vaygu'a — the  arm- 
shells  and  necklets — go  round  and  round  the  ring'1  (loc.  cit., 
p.  105). 

In  this  chapter,  a  short,  summary  definition  of  the  Kula 
has  been  given.  I  enumerated  one  after  the  other  its  most 
salient  features,  the  most  remarkable  rules  as  they  are  laid 
down  in  native  custom,  belief  and  behaviour.  This  was 
necessary  in  order  to  give  a  general  idea  of  the  institution 
before  describing  its  working  in  detail.  But  no  abridged 
definition  can  give  to  the  reader  the  full  understanding  of  a 
human  social  institution.  It  is  necessary  for  this,  to  explain 
its  working  concretely,  to  bring  the  reader  into  contact  with 
the  people,  show  how  they  proceed  at  each  successive  stage, 
and  to  describe  all  the  actual  manifestations  of  the  general 
rules  laid  down  in  abstract. 

As  has  been  said  above,  the  Kula  exchange  is  carried  on 
by  enterprises  of  two  sorts  ;  first  there  are  the  big  overseas 
expeditions,  in  which  a  more  or  less  considerable  amount  of 


104  THE  ESSENTIALS  OF  THE  KULA 

valuables  are  carried  at  one  time.  Then  there  is  the  inland 
trade  in  which  the  articles  are  passed  from  hand  to  hand, 
often  changing  several  owners  before  they  move  a  few  miles. 

The  big  overseas  expeditions  are  by  far  the  more  spectacular 
part  of  the  Kula.  They  also  contain  much  more  public 
ceremonial,  magical  ritual,  and  customary  usage.  They 
require  also,  of  course,  more  of  preparation  and  preliminary 
activity.  I  shall  therefore  have  a  good  deal  more  to  say 
about  the  overseas  Kula  expeditions  than  about  the  internal 
exchange. 

As  the  Kula  customs  and  beliefs  have  been  mainly  studied 
in  Boyowa,  that  is,  the  Trobriand  Islands,  and  from  the 
Boyowan  point  of  view,  I  shall  describe,  in  the  first  place,  the 
typical  course  of  an  overseas  expedition,  as  it  is  prepared, 
organised,  and  carried  out  from  the  Trobriands.  Beginning 
with  the  construction  of  the  canoes,  proceeding  to  the 
ceremonial  launching  and  the  visits  of  formal  presentation  of 
canoes,  we  shall  choose  then  the  community  of  Sinaketa,  and 
follow  the  natives  on  one  of  their  overseas  trips,  describing 
it  in  all  details.  This  will  serve  us  as  a  type  of  a  Kula  expe- 
dition to  distant  lands.  It  will  then  be  indicated  in  what 
particulars  such  expeditions  may  differ  in  other  branches  of 
the  Kula,  and  for  this  purpose  I  shall  describe  an  expedition 
from  Dobu,  and  one  between  Kiriwina  and  Kitava.  An 
account  of  inland  Kula  in  the  Trobriands,  of  some  associated 
forms  of  trading  and  of  Kula  in  the  remaining  branches  will 
complete  the  account. 

In  the  next  chapter  I  pass,  therefore,  to  the  preliminary 
stages  of  the  Kula,  in  the  Trobriands,  beginning  with  a 
description  of  the  canoes. 


CHAPTER   IV 
CANOES    AND    SAILING 

I 

A  CANOE  is  an  item  of  material  culture,  and  as  such  it  can 
be  described,  photographed  and  even  bodily  transported  into 
a  museum.  But — and  this  is  a  truth  too  often  overlooked — 
the  ethnographic  reality  of  the  canoe  would  not  be  brought 
much  nearer  to  a  student  at  home,  even  by  placing  a  perfect 
specimen  right  before  him 

The  canoe  is  made  for  a  certain  use,  and  with  a  definite 
purpose ;  it  is  a  means  to  an  end,  and  we,  who  study  native 
life,  must  not  reverse  this  relation,  and  make  a  fetish  of  the 
object  itself.  In  the  study  of  the  economic  purposes  for 
which  a  canoe  is  made,  of  the  various  uses  to  which  it  is  sub- 
mitted, we  find  the  first  approach  to  a  deeper  ethnographic 
treatment.  Further  sociological  data,  referring  to  its 
ownership,  accounts  of  who  sails  in  it,  and  how  it  is  done  ; 
information  regarding  the  ceremonies  and  customs  of  its 
construction,  a  sort  of  typical  life  history  of  a  native  craft — 
all  that  brings  us  nearer  still  to  the  understanding  of  what  his 
canoe  truly  means  to  the  native. 

Even  this,  however,  does  not  touch  the  most  vital  reality  of 
a  native  canoe.  For  a  craft,  whether  of  bark  or  wood,  iron 
or  steel,  lives  in  the  life  of  its  sailors,  and  it  is  more  to  a  sailor 
than  a  mere  bit  of  shaped  matter.  To  the  native,  not  less 
than  to  the  white  seaman,  a  craft  is  surrounded  by  an  atmosphere 
of  romance,  built  up  of  tradition  and  of  personal  experience. 
It  is  an  object  of  cult  and  admiration,  a  living  thing,  possessing 
its  own  individuality. 

We  Europeans — whether  we  know  native  craft  by 
experience  or  through  descriptions — accustomed  to  our 
extraordinarily  developed  means  of  water  transport,  are  apt 
to  look  down  on  a  native  canoe  and  see  it  in  a  false  perspective 
— regarding  it  almost  as  a  child's  plaything,  an  abortive, 


106  CANOES  AND  SAILING 

imperfect  attempt  to  tackle  the  problem  of  sailing,  which  we 
ourselves  have  satisfactorily  solved.*  But  to  the  native  his 
cumbersome,  sprawling  canoe  is  a  marvellous,  almost 
miraculous  achievement,  and  a  thing  of  beauty  (see  Plates 
XXI,  XXIII,  XL,  XLVII,  LV).  He  has  spun  a  tradition 
around  it,  and  he  adorns  it  with  his  best  carvings,  he  colours 
and  decorates  it.  It  is  to  him  a  powerful  contrivance  for  the 
mastery  of  Nature,  which  allows  him  to  cross  perilous  seas  to 
distant  places.  It  is  associated  with  journeys  by  sail,  full  of 
threatening  dangers,  of  living  hopes  and  desires  to  which  he 
gives  expression  in  song  and  story.  In  short,  in  the  tradition 
of  the  natives,  in  their  customs,  in  their  behaviour,  and  in  their 
direct  statements,  there  can  be  found  the  deep  love,  the 
admiration,  the  specific  attachment  as  to  something  alive  and 
personal,  so  characteristic  of  the  sailors'  attitude  towards  his 
craft. 

And  it  is  hi  this  emotional  attitude  of  the  natives  towards 
their  canoes  that  I  see  the  deepest  ethnographic  reality,  which 
must  guide  us  right  through  the  study  of  other  aspects — the 
customs  and  technicalities  of  construction  and  of  use  ;  the 
economic  conditions  and  the  associated  beliefs  and  traditions. 
Ethnology  or  Anthropology,  the  science  of  Man,  must  not 
shun  him  in  his  innermost  self,  in  his  instinctive  and  emotional 
life. 

A  look  at  the  ^pictures  (for  instance  Plates  XXI,  XXIV, 
XXXIX,  or  XLVII)  will  give  us  some  idea  of  the  general 
structure  of  the  native  canoes  :  the  body  is  a  long,  deep 
well,  connected  with  an  outrigger  float,  which  stretches  parallel 
with  the  body  for  almost  all  its  length  (see  Plates  XXI  and 
XXIII),  and  with  a  platform  going  across  from  one  side  to 
the  other.  The  lightness  of  the  material  permits  it  to  be  much 
more  deeply  immersed  than  any  sea-going  European  craft,  and 
gives  it  greater  buoyancy.  It  skims  the  surface,  gliding  up  and 
down  the  waves,  now  hidden  by  the  crests,  now  riding  on  top 

*  Comparing  the  frail  yet  clumsy  native  canoe  with  a  fine  European 
yacht,  we  feel  inclined  to  regard  the  former  almost  in  the  light  of  a  joke.  This 
is  the  pervading  note  in  many  amateur  ethnographic  accounts  of  sailing, 
where  cheap  fun  is  made  by  speaking  of  roughly  hewn  dug-outs  in  terms  of 
"dreadnoughts  "  or  "  Royal  Yachts,"  just  as  simple,  savage  chiefs  are  referred 
to  as  "  Kings  "  in  a  jocular  vein.  Such  humour  is  doubtless  natural  and 
refreshing,  but  when  we  approach  these  matters  scientifically,  on  the  one 
hand  we  must  refrain  from  any  distortion  of  facts,  and  on  the  other,  enter 
into  the  finer  shades  of  the  natives'  thought  and  feeling  with  regard  to  his 
own  creations. 


PLATE  XXI 


Ng; 


A    MAS  AW  A   CANOH 

itpda  Bu'a,  the  seagoing  canoe  of  Omawkrtna,  showing  general  form    .mianuiitation  o 
rowhoards,  the  leaf-shaped  padtlles  and  the  form  ot  the  out-n^T  '"K-     t»^  Dlv*  l  «llil  ll 
also  next  <  h.ipter.) 


FATE  XXII 


PUTTING   A   CANOE  INTO  ITS  HANGAK 

The  canoes  mi  the  East  shores  of  Boyuwa  arc  seldom  used,  and  whim  idle  arc  housed  in  shelter 
built  very  much  like  ordinary  huts,  only  much  larger 


[face  p.  106 


X 
X 

I 


CANOES  AND  SAILING  107 

of  them.  It  is  a  precarious  but  delightful  sensation  to  sit  in 
the  slender  body,  while  the  canoe  darts  on  with  the  float  raised, 
the  platform  steeply  slanting,  and  water  constantly  breaking 
over  ;  or  else,  still  better,  to  perch  on  the  platform  or  on  the 
float: — the  latter  only  feasible  in  the  bigger  canoes — and  be 
carried  across  on  the  sea  on  a  sort  of  suspended  raft,  gliding  over 
the  waves  in  a  manner  almost  uncanny.  Occasionally  a  wave 
leaps  up  and  above  the  platform,  and  the  canoe — unwieldy, 
square  raft  as  it  seems  at  first — heaves  lengthways  and 
crossways,  mounting  the  furrows  with  graceful  agility.  When 
the  sail  is  hoisted,  its  heavy,  stiff  folds  of  golden  matting 
unroll  with  a  characteristic  swishing  and  crackling  noise, 
and  the  canoe  begins  to  make  way ;  when  the  water  rushes 
away  below  with  a  hiss,  and  the  yellow  sail  glows  against  the 
intense  blue  of  sea  and  sky — then  indeed  the  romance  of 
sailing  seems  to  open  through  a  new  vista. 

The  natural  reflection  on  this  description  is  that  it  presents 
the  feelings  of  the  Ethnographer,  not  those  of  the  native. 
Indeed  there  is  a  great  difficulty  in  disentangling  our  own 
sensations  from  a  correct  reading  of  the  innermost  native 
mind.  But  if  an  investigator,  speaking  the  native's  language 
and  living  among  them  for  some  time,  were  to  try  to  share 
and  understand  their  feelings,  he  will  find  that  he  can  gauge 
them  correctly.  Soon  he  will  learn  to  distinguish  when  the 
native's  behaviour  is  in  harmony  with  his  own,  and  when,  as 
it  sometimes  happens,  the  two  are  at  variance. 

Thus,  in  this  case,  there  is  no  mistaking  the  natives'  great 
admiration  of  a  good  canoe  ;  of  their  quickness  in  appreciating 
differences  in  speed,  buoyancy  and  stability,  and  of  their 
emotional  reaction  to  such  difference.  When,  on  a  calm  day, 
suddenly  a  fresh  breeze  rises,  the  sail  is  set,  and  fills,  and  the 
canoe  lifts  its  lamina  (outrigger  float)  out  of  the  water,  and 
races  along,  flinging  the  spray  to  right  and  left — there  is  no 
mistaking  the  keen  enjoyment  of  the  natives.  All  rush  to 
their  posts  and  keenly  watch  the  movements  of  the  boat  ; 
some  break  out  into  song,  and  the  younger  men  lean  over  and 
play  with  the  water.  They  are  never  tired  of  discussing  the 
good  points  of  their  canoes,  and  analysing  the  various  craft. 
In  the  coastal  villages  of  the  Lagoon,  boys  and  young  men 
will  often  sail  out  in  small  canoes  on  mere  pleasure  cruises, 
when  they  race  each  other,  explore  less  familiar  nooks  of  the 


io8  CANOES  AND  SAILING 

Lagoon,  and  in  general  undoubtedly  enjoy  the  outing,  in  just 
the  same  manner  as  we  would  do. 

Seen  from  outside,  after  you  have  grasped  its  construction 
and  appreciated  through  personal  experience  its  fitness  for 
its  purpose,  the  canoe  is  no  less  attractive  and  full  of  character 
than  from  within.  When,  on  a  trading  expedition  or  as  a 
visiting  party,  a  fleet  of  native  canoes  appears  in  the  offing, 
with  their  triangular  sails  like  butterfly  wings  scattered  over 
the  water  (see  Plates  XLVIII),  with  the  harmonious  calls  of 
conch  shells  blown  in  unison,  the  effect  is  unforgettable.* 
When  the  canoes  then  approach,  and  you  see  them  rocking  in 
the  blue  water  in  all  the  splendour  of  their  fresh  white,  red, 
and  black  paint,  with  their  finely  designed  prowboards,  and 
clanking  array  of  large,  white  cowrie  shells  (see  Plates  XLIX, 
LV) — you  understand  well  the  admiring  love  which  results 
in  all  this  care  bestowed  by  the  native  on  the  decoration  of  his 
canoe. 

Even  when  not  in  actual  use,  when  lying  idle  beached 
on  the  sea  front  of  a  village,  the  canoe  is  a  characteristic 
element  in  the  scenery,  not  without  its  share  in  the  village  life. 
The  very  big  canoes  are  in  some  cases  housed  in  large  sheds 
(see  Plate  XXII),  which  are  by  far  the  largest  buildings 
erected  by  the  Trobrianders.  In  other  villages,  where  sailing 
is  always  being  done,  a  canoe  is  simply  covered  with  palm 
leaves  (see  Plates  I,  LIII),  as  protection  from  the  sun,  and 
the  natives  often  sit  on  its  platform,  chatting,  and  chewing 
betel-nut,  and  gazing  at  the  sea.  The  smaller  canoes,  beached 
near  the  sea-front  in  long  parallel  rows,  are  ready  to  be  launched 
at  any  moment.  With  their  curved  outline  and  intricate 
framework  of  poles  and  sticks,  they  form  one  of  the  most 
characteristic  settings  of  a  native  coastal  village 

II 

A  few  words  must  be  said  now  abput  the  technological 
essentials  of  the  canoe.  Here  again,  a  simple  enumeration 
of  the  various  parts  of  the  canoe,  and  a  description  of  them, 

*  The  crab-claw  sails,  used  on  the  South  Coast,  from  Mailu  where  I  used 
to  see  them,  to  westwards  where  they  are  used  with  the  double-masted  lakatoi 
of  Port  Moresby,  are  still  more  picturesque.  In  fact,  I  can  hardly  imagine 
anything  more  strangely  impressive  than  a  fleet  of  crab-claw  sailed  canoes. 
They  have  been  depicted  in  the  British  New  Guinea  stamp,  as  issued  by  Captain 
Francis  Barton,  the  late  Governor  of  the  Colony.  See  also  Plate  XII  of 
Seligman's  "  Melanesians." 


CANOES  AND  SAILING 


109 


a  pulling  to  pieces  of  a  lifeless  object  will  not  satisfy  us.  I 
shall  instead  try  to  show  how,  given  its  purpose  on  the  one 
hand,  and  the  limitations  in  technical  means  and  in  material 
on  the  other,  the  native  ship-builders  have  coped  with  the 
difficulties  before  them. 

A  sailing  craft  requires  a  water-tight,  immersible  vessel 
of  some  considerable  volume.  This  is  supplied  to  our  natives 
by  a  hollowed-out  log.  Such  a  log  might  carry  fairly  heavy 
loads,  for  wood  is  light,  and  the  hollowed  space  adds  to  its 
buoyancy.  Yet  it  possesses  no  lateral  stability,  as  can  easily 
be  seen.  A  look  at  the  diagrammatic  section  of  a  canoe 
Fig.  I  (i),  shows  that  a  weight  with  its  centre  of  gravity  in 


FIGURE  I — Diagram  showing  in  transversal  section  some  principles  of 
canoe  stability  and  construction. 

the  middle,  that  is,  distributed  symmetrically,  will  not  upset 
the  equilibrium,  but  any  load  placed  so  as  to  produce  a 
momentum  of  rotation  (that  is,  a  turning  force)  at  the  sides 
(as  indicated  by  arrows  at  A  or  B)  will  cause  the  canoe  to 
turn  round  and  capsize. 

If,  however,  as  shown  in  Fig.  I  (2),  another  smaller,  solid 
log  (C)  be  attached  to  the  dug-out,  a  greater  stability  is 
achieved,  though  not  a  symmetrical  one.  If  we  press  down 
the  one  side  of  the  canoe  (A)  this  will  cause  the  canoe  to  turn 
round  a  longitudinal  axis,  so  that  its  other  side  (B)  is  raised, 
Fig.  I  (3).  The  log  (C)  will  be  lifted  out  of  the  water,  and  its 
weight  will  produce  a  momentum  (turning  force)  proportional 
to  the  displacement,  and  the  rest  of  the  canoe  will  come  to 


no  CANOES  AND  SAILING 

equilibrium.  This  momentum  is  represented  in  the  diagram 
by  the  arrow  R.  Thus  a  great  stability  relative  to  any  stress 
exercised  upon  A,  will  be  achieved.  A  stress  on  B  causes  the 
log  to  be  immersed,  to  which  its  buoyancy  opposes  a  slight 
resistance.  But  it  can  easily  be  seen  that  the  stability  on 
this  side  is  much  smaller  than  on  the  other.  This  assymetrical* 
stability  plays  a  great  part  in  the  technique  of  sailing.  Thus, 
as  we  shall  see,  the  canoe  is  always  so  sailed  that  its  outrigger 
float  (C)  remains  in  the  wind  side.  The  pressure  of  the  sail 
then  lifts  the  canoe,  so  that  A  is  pressed  into  the  water,  and 
B  and  C  are  lifted,  a  position  in  which  they  are  extremely 
stable,  and  can  stand  great  force  of  wind.  Whereas  the  slightest 
breeze  would  cause  the  canoe  to  turn  turtle,  if  it  fell  on  the 
other  side,  and  thus  pressed  B — C  into  the  water. 

Another  look  at  Fig.  I  (2)  and  (3)  will  help  us  to  realise 
that  the  stability  of  the  canoe  will  depend  upon  (i)  the  volume, 
and  especially  the  depth  of  the  dug-out ;  (ii)  the  distance 
B — C  between  the  dug-out  and  the  log ;  (iii)  the  size  of  the 
log  C.  The  greater  all  these  three  magnitudes  are,  the  greater 
the  stability  of  the  canoes.  A  shallow  canoe,  without  much 
freeboard,  will  be  easily  forced  into  the  water ;  moreover,  if 
sailed  in  rough  weather,  waves  will  break  over  it,  and  fill  it 
with  water. 

(i^  The  volume  of  the  dug-out  log  naturally  depends  upon 
the  length,  and  thickness  of  the  log.  Fairly  stable  canoes  are 
made  of  simply  scooped-out  logs.  There  are  limits,  however, 
to  the  capacity  of  these,  which  are  very  soon  reached.  But 
by  building  out  the  side,  by  adding  one  or  several  planks  to 
them,  as  shown  in  Figure  I  (4)  the  volume  and  the  depth  can 
be  greatly  increased  without  much  increase  in  weight.  So 
that  such  a  canoe  has  a  good  deal  of  freeboard  to  prevent 
water  from  breaking  in.  The  longitudinal  boards  in 
Kiriwinian  canoes  are  closed  in  at  each  end  by  transversal 
prow-boards,  which  are  also  carved  with  more  or  less 
perfection  (see  Plates  XXIV  c,  XLVII). 

(ii)  The  greater  the  distance  B — C  between  dug-out  and 
outrigger  float,  the  greater  the  stability  of  the  canoe.  Since 

*  A  constructive  expedient  to  achieve  a  symmetrical  stability  is  exem- 
plified by  the  Mailu  system  of  canoe-building,  where  a  platform  bndges  two 
parallel,  hollowed-out  logs.  Cf.  Author's  article  in  the  Transactions  of  the 
Royal  Society  of  S.  Australia,  Vol.  XXXIX,  1915,  pp.  494-706.  Chapter  IV, 
612-599.  Plates  XXXV-XXXVII. 


CANOES  AND  SAILING 


in 


the  momentum  of  rotation  is  the  product  of  B — C  (Fig.  I),  and 
the  weight  of  the  log  C,  it  is  clear,  therefore,  that  the  greater 
the  distance,  the  greater  will  be  the  momentum,  Too  great 
a  distance,  however,  would  interfere  with  the  wieldiness  of  the 
canoe.  Any  force  acting  on  the  log  would  easily  tip  the  canoe, 
and  as  the  natives,  in  order  to  manage  the  craft,  have  to  walk 
upon  the  outrigger,  the  distance  B— C  must  not  be  too  great. 
In  the  Trobriands  the  distance  B— C  is  about  one-quarter, 
or  less,  of  the  total  length  of  the  canoe.  In  the  big,  sea-going 
canoes,  it  is  always  covered  with  a  platform.  In  certain  other 
•districts,  the  distance  is  much  bigger,  and  the  canoes  have 
another  type  of  rigging. 


FIGURE  II — Diagrammatic  sections  of  the  three  types  of  Trobnand  Canoe 
(i)  Kewcfu  (2)   Kalipoulo  (3)  Masawa 

(iii)  The  size  of  the  log  (C)  of  which  the  float  is  formed. 
This,  in  sea-going  canoes,  is  usually  of  considerable  dimensions. 
But,  as  a  solid  piece  of  wood  becomes  heavy  if  soaked  by 
water,  too  thick  a  log  would  not  be  good. 

These  are  all  the  essentials  of  construction  in  their 
functional  aspect,  which  will  make  clear  further  descriptions 
of  sailing,  of  building,  and  of  using.  For,  indeed,  though  I 
have  said  that  technicalities  are  of  secondary  importance,  still 
without  grasping  them,  we  cannot  understand  references  to 
the  managing  and  rigging  of  the  canoes. 


H2  CANOES  AND  SAILING 

The  Trobrianders  use  their  craft  for  three  main  purposes, 
and  these  correspond  to  the  three  types  of  canoe.  Coastal 
transport,  especially  in  the  Lagoon,  requires  small,  light,  handy 
canoes  called  kewo'u  (see  Fig.  II  (i),  and  Plates  XXIV,  top 
foreground,  and  XXXVI,  to  the  right)  ;  for  fishing,  bigger 
and  more  seaworthy  canoes  called  kalipoulo  (see  Fig.  II  (2), 
and  Plates  XXIV,  and  XXXVI,  to  the  left,  also  XXXVII) 
are  used ;  finally,  for  deep  sea  sailing,  the  biggest  type  is 
needed,  with  a  considerable  carrying  capacity,  greater 
displacement,  and  stronger  construction.  These  are  called 
masawa  (see  Fig.  II  (3)  and  Plates  XXI,  XXIII,  etc.).  The 
word  waga  is  a  general  designation  for  ail  kinds  of  sailing  craft. 

Only  a  few  words  need  to  be  said  about  the  first  two  types, 
so  as  to  make,  by  means  of  comparison,  the  third  type  clearer. 
The  construction  of  the  smallest  canoes  is  sufficiently  illustrated 
by  the  diagram  (i)  in  Fig.  II.  From  this  it  is  clear  that  it 
is  a  simple  dug-out  log,  connected  with  a  float.  It  never  has 
any  built-up  planking,  and  no  carved  boards,  nor  as  a  rule 
any  platform.  In  its  economic  aspect,  it  is  always  owned  by 
one  individual,  and  serves  his  personal  needs.  No  mythology 
or  magic  is  attached  to  it. 

Type  (2),  as  can  be  seen  in  Fig.  II  (2),  differs  in  con- 
struction from  (i),  in  so  far  that  it  has  its  well  enclosed  by 
built-out  planking  and  carved  prow-boards.  A  framework  of 
six  ribs  helps  to  keep  the  planks  firmly  attached  to  the  dug-out 
and  to  hold  them  together.  It  is  used  in  fishing  villages. 
These  villages  are  organised  into  several  fishing  detachments, 
each  with  a  headman.  He  is  the  owner  of  the  canoe,  he  performs 
the  fish  magic,  and  among  other  privileges,  obtains  the  main 
yield  of  fish.  But  all  his  crew  de  facto  have  the  right  to  use 
the  canoe  and  share  in  the  yield.  Here  we  come  across  the 
fact  that  native  ownership  is  not  a  simple  institution,  since  it 
implies  definite  rights  of  a  number  of  men,  combined  with  the 
paramount  right  and  title  of  one.  There  is  a  good  deal  of 
fishing  magic,  taboos  and  customs  connected  with  the  construc- 
tion of  these  canoes,  and  also  with  their  use,  and  they  form  the 
subject  of  a  number  of  minor  myths. 

By  far  the  most  elaborate  technically,  the  most  seaworthy 
and  carefully  built,  are  the  sea-going  canoes  of  the  third  type 
(see  Fig.  II  (3)).  These  are  undoubtedly  the  greatest 
achievement  of  craftsmanship  of  these  natives.  Technically, 


AA1V 


FISHING    CANOE    (KALIPOULO) 

Above  the  profile  of  a  canoe,  shows  the  outline  of  the  duff-out,  the  relative  width 
of  the  gunwale  planks  <md  the  hull,  and  the  general  of  the  canoe.    The  bottom 

picture  shows  the  attachment  of  the  outrigger  to  the  hull,  the  prow,  the  prow-hoards 
and  the  platform.    (Sec  Div  IL) 


[face  p.  1X2 


CANOES  AND  SAILING  113 

they  differ  from  the  previously  described  kinds,  in  the  amount 
of  time  spent  over  their  construction  and  the  care  given  to 
details,  rather  than  in  essentials.  The  well  is  formed  by  a 
planking  built  over  a  hollowed  log  and  closed  up  at  both  ends 
by  carved,  transversal  prow-boards,  kept  in  position  by  others, 
longitudinal  and  of  oval  form.  The  whole  planking  remains 
in  place  by  means  of  ribs,  as  in  the  second  type  of  canoes,  the 
kalipoulo,  the  fishing  canoes,  but  all  the  parts  are  finished  and 
fitted  much  more  perfectly,  lashed  with  a  better  creeper,  and 
more  thoroughly  caulked.  The  carving,  which  in  the  fishing 
canoes  is  often  quite  indifferent,  here  is  perfect.  Ownership 
of  these  canoes  is  even  more  complex,  and  its  construction  is 
permeated  with  tribal  customs,  ceremonial,  and  magic,  the  last 
based  on  mythology.  The  magic  is  always  performed  in 
direct  association  with  Kula  expeditions. 

Ill 

After  having  thus  spoken  about,  first,  the  general  impression 
made  by  a  canoe  and  its  psychological  import,  and  then  about 
the  fundamental  features  of  its  technology,  we  have  to  turn 
to  the  social  implications  of  a  masawa  (sea-going  canoe). 

The  canoe  is  constructed  by  a  group  of  people,  it  is  owned, 
used  and  enjoyed  communally,  and  this  is  done  according  to 
definite  rules.  There  is  therefore  a  social  organisation  under- 
lying the  building,  the  owning,  and  the  sailing  of  a  canoe. 
Under  these  three  headings,  we  shall  give  an  outline  of  the 
canoe's  sociology,  always  bearing  in  mind  that  these  outlines 
have  to  be  filled  in  in  the  subsequent  account. 

(A)  Social  organisation  of  labour  in  constructing  a  Canoe. 
In  studying  the  construction  of  a  canoe,  we  see  the  natives 
engaged  in  an  economic  enterprise  on  a  big  scale.  Technical 
difficulties  face  them,  which  require  knowledge,  and  can  only 
be  overcome  by  a  continuous,  systematic  effort,  and  at  certain 
stages  must  be  met  by  means  of  communal  labour.  All  this 
obviously  implies  some  social  organisation.  All  the  stages  of 
work,  at  which  various  people  have  to  co-operate,  must  be 
co-ordinated,  there  must  be  someone  in  authority  who  takes 
the  initiative  and  gives  decisions  ;  and  there  must  be  also 
someone  with  a  technical  capacity,  who  directs  the  construc- 
tion. Finally,  in  Kiriwina,  communal  labour,  and  the  services 


114  CANOES  AND  SAILING 

of  experts  have  to  be  paid  for,  and  there  must  be  someone  who 
has  the  means  and  is  prepared  to  do  it.*  This  economic 
organisation  rests  on  two  fundamental  facts — (i)  the  socio- 
logical differentiation  of  functions,  and  (2)  the  magical  regulation 
of  work, 

(1)  The  sociological  differentiation  of  functions. — First   of 
all  there  is  the  owner  of  the  canoe,  that  is,  the  chief,  or  the 
headman  of  a  village  or  of  a  smaller  sub-division,  who  takes 
the  responsibility  for  the  undertaking.    He  pays  for  the  work, 
engages  the  expert,  gives  orders,  and  commands  communal 
labour. 

Besides  the  owner,  there  is  next  another  office  of  great 
sociological  importance,  namely,  that  of  the  expert.  He  is  the 
man  who  knows  how  to  construct  the  canoe,  how  to  do  the 
carvings,  and,  last,  not  least,  how  to  perform  the  magic.  All 
these  functions  of  the  expert  may  be,  but  not  necessarily  are, 
united  in  one  person.  The  owner  is  always  one  individual, 
but  there  may  be  two  or  even  three  experts. 

Finally,  the  third  sociological  factor  in  canoe-building, 
consists  of  the  workers.  And  here  there  is  a  further  division. 
First  there  is  a  smaller  group,  consisting  of  the  relations  and 
close  friends  of  the  owner  or  of  the  expert,  who  help  throughout 
the  whole  process  of  construction ;  and,  secondly,  there  is, 
besides  them,  the  main  body  of  villagers,  who  take  part  in  the 
work  at  those  stages  where  communal  labour  is  necessary. 

(2)  The  magical  regulation   of  work. — The   belief  in    the 
efficiency  of  magic  is  supreme  among  the  natives  of  Boyowa, 
and  they  associate  it  with  all  their  vital  concerns.     In  fact, 
we  shall  find  magic  interwoven  into  all  the  many  industrial 
and  communal  activities  to  be  described  later  on,  as  well  as 
associated  with  every  pursuit  where  either  danger  or  chance 
conspicuously  enter.     We  shall  have  to  describe,  besides  the 
magic  of  canoe-making,  that  of  propitious  sailing,  of  ship- 
wreck and  salvage,  of  Kula  and  of  trade,  of  fishing,  of  obtaining 
spondylus  and  Conus  shell,  and  of  protection  against  attack 
in  foreign  parts.     It  is  imperative  that  we  should  thoroughly 
grasp  what  magic  means  to  the  natives  and  the  rdle  it  plays 
in  all  their  vital  pursuits,  and  a  special  chapter  will  be  devoted 

*  The  whole  tribal  life  is  based  on  a  continuous  material  give  and  take  ; 
cf.  the  above  mentioned  article  in  the  Economic  Journal,  March,  1921,  and 
the  disgression  on  this  subject  in  Chapter  VI,  Division  IV-VII. 


CANOES  AND  SAILING  115 

to  magical  ideas  and  magical  practices  in  Kiriwina.  Here, 
however,  it  is  necessary  to  sketch  the  main  outlines,  at  least 
as  far  as  canoe  magic  is  concerned. 

First  of  all,  it  must  be  realised  that  the  natives  firmly 
believe  in  the  value  of  magic,  and  that  this  conviction,  when 
put  to  the  test  of  their  actions,  is  quite  unwavering,  even 
nowadays  when  so  much  of  native  belief  and  custom  has 
been  undermined.  We  may  speak  of  the  sociological  weight 
of  tradition,  that  is  of  the  degree  to  which  the  behaviour  of 
a  community  is  affected  by  the  traditional  commands  of 
tribal  law  and  customs.  In  the  Trobriands,  the  general 
injunction  for  always  building  canoes  under  the  guidance  of 
magic  is  obeyed  without  the  slightest  deviation,  for  the 
tradition  here  weighs  very  heavily.  Up  to  the  present,  not  one 
single  masawa  canoe  has  been  constructed  without  magic,  indeed 
without  the  full  observance  of  all  the  rites  and  ceremonial. 
The  forces  that  keep  the  natives  to  their  traditional  course  of 
behaviour  are,  in  the  first  place,  the  specific  social  inertia 
which  obtains  in  all  human  societies  and  is  the  basis  of  all 
conservative  tendencies,  and  then  the  strong  conviction 
that  if  the  traditional  course  were  not  taken,  evil  results 
would  ensue.  In  the  case  of  canoes,  the  Trobrianders  would 
be  so  firmly  persuaded  that  a  canoe  built  without  magic  would 
be  unseaworthy,  slow  in  sailing,  and  unlucky  in  the  Kula, 
that  no  one  would  dream  of  omitting  the  magic  rites. 

In  the  myths  related  elsewhere  (Chap.  XII)  we  shall  see 
plainly  the  power  ascribed  to  magic  in  imparting  speed  and 
other  qualities  to  a  canoe.  According  to  native  mythology, 
which  is  literally  accepted,  and  strongly  believed,  canoes  could 
be  even  made  to  fly,  had  not  the  necessary  magic  fallen  into 
oblivion* 

It  is  also  important  to  understand  rightly  the  natives'  ideas 
about  the  relation  between  magical  efficiency  and  the  results 
of  craftsmanship.  Both  are  considered  indispensable,  but 
both  are  understood  to  act  independently.  That  is,  the 
natives  will  understand  that  magic,  however  efficient,  will 
not  make  up  for  bad  workmanship.  Each  of  these  two  has 
its  own  province  :  the  builder  by  his  skill  and  knowledge  makes 
the  canoe  stable  and  swift,  and  magic  gives  it  an  additional 
stability  and  swiftness.  If  a  canoe  is  obviously  badly  built, 
the  natives  will  know  why  it  sails  slowly  and  is  unwieldy. 


n6  CANOES  AND  SAILING 

But  if  one  of  two  canoes,  both  apparently  equally  well  con- 
structed surpasses  the  other  in  some  respect,  this  will  be 
attributed  to  magic. 

Finally,  speaking  from  a  sociological  point  of  view,  what 
is  the  economic  function  of  magic  in  the  process  of  canoe 
making  ?  Is  it  simply  an  extraneous  action,  having  nothing 
to  do  with  the  real  work  or  its  organisation  ?  Is  magic,  from 
the  economic  point  of  view,  a  mere  waste  of  time  ?  By  no 
means.  In  reading  the  account  which  follows,  it  will  be  seen 
clearly  that  magic  puts  order  and  sequence  into  the  various 
activities,  and  that  it  and  its  associated  ceremonial  are 
instrumental  in  securing  the  co-operation  of  the  community, 
and  the  organisation  of  communal  labour.  As  has  been  said 
before,  it  inspires  the  builders  with  great  confidence  in  the 
efficiency  of  their  work,  a  mental  state  essential  in  any  enter- 
prise of  complicated  and  difficult  character.  The  belief  that 
the  magician  is  a  man  endowed  with  special  powers,  controling 
the  canoe,  makes  him  a  natural  leader  whose  command  is 
obeyed,  who  can  fix  dates,  apportion  work,  and  keep  the 
worker  up  to  the  mark. 

Magic,  far  from  being  a  useless  appendage,  or  even  a  burden 
on  the  work,  supplies  the  psychological  influence,  which  keeps 
people  confident  about  the  success  of  their  labour,  and  provides 
them  with  a  sort  of  natural  leader.*  Thus  the  organisation  of 
labour  in  canoe-building  rests  on  the  one  hand  on  the  division 
of  functions,  those  of  the  owner,  the  expert  and  the  helpers, 
and  on  the  other  on  the  co-operation  between  labour  and 
magic. 

IV 
(B)  Sociology  of  Canoe  Ownership. 

Ownership,  giving  this  word  its  broadest  sense,  is  the 
relation,  often  very  complex,  between  an  object  and  the  social 
community  in  which  it  is  found.  In  ethnology  it  is  extremely 
important  not  to  use  this  word  in  any  narrower  sense  than  that 
just  defined,  because  the  types  of  ownership  found  in  various 
parts  of  the  world  differ  widely.  It  is  especially  a  grave 

*  This  view  has  been  more  fully  elaborated  in  the  article  on  "  Primitive 
Economics  "  in  the  Economic  Journal,  March,  1921  ;  compare  also  the  remarks 
on  systematic  magic  in  Chapter  XVII,  Division  VII. 


CANOES  AND  SAILING  117 

error  to  use  the  word  ownership  with  the  very  definite 
connotation  given  to  it  in  our  own  society.  For  it  is  obvious 
that  this  connotation  presupposes  the  existence  of  very 
highly  developed  economic  and  legal  conditions,  such  as  they 
are  amongst  ourselves,  and  therefore  the  term  "  own  "  as  we 
use  it  is  meaningless,  when  applied  to  a  native  society.  Or 
indeed,  what  is  worse,  such  an  application  smuggles  a  number 
of  preconceived  ideas  into  our  description,  and  before  we  have 
begun  to  give  an  account  of  the  native  conditions,  we  have 
distorted  the  reader's  outlook. 

Ownership  has  naturally  in  every  type  of  native  society, 
a  different  specific  meaning,  as  in  each  type,  custom  and 
tradition  attach  a  different  set  of  functions,  rites  and 
privileges  to  the  word.  Moreover,  the  social  range  of  those 
who  enjoy  these  privileges  varies.  Between  pure  individual 
ownership  and  collectivism,  there  is  a  whole  scale  of  intermediate 
blendings  and  combinations. 

In  the  Trobriands,  there  is  a  word  which  may  be  said 
approximately  to  denote  ownership,  the  prefix  toll — followed 
by  the  name  of  the  object  owned.  Thus  the  compound  word 
(pronounced  without  hiatus)  toli-waga,  means  "  owner  "  or 
"  master  "  of  a  canoe  (waga)  ;  toli-bagula,  the  master  of  the 
garden  (bagula — garden)  ;  toli-bunukwa,  owner  of  the  pig; 
toli-megwa  (owner,  expert  in  magic,  etc.)  This  word  has  to 
be  used  as  a  clue  to  the  understanding  of  native  ideas,  but 
here  again  such  a  clue  must  be  used  with  caution.  For,  in  the 
first  place,  like  all  abstract  native  words,  it  covers  a  wide 
range,  and  has  different  meanings  in  different  contexts.  And 
even  with  regard  to  one  object,  a  number  of  people  may  lay 
claim  to  ownership,  claim  to  be  toli — with  regard  to  it.  In 
the  second  place,  people  having  the  full  de  facto  right  of  using 
an  object,  might  not  be  allowed  to  call  themselves  toli — of 
this  object.  This  will  be  made  clear  in  the  concrete  example 
of  the  canoe. 

The  word  toli — in  this  example  is  restricted  to  one  man 
only,  who  calls  himself  toli-waga.  Sometimes  his  nearest 
maternal  relatives,  such  as  his  brothers  and  maternal  nephews, 
might  call  themselves  collectively  toli-waga,  but  this  would  be 
an  abuse  of  the  term.  Now,  even  the  mere  privilege  of  using 
exclusively  this  title  is  very  highly  valued  by  the  natives. 
With  this  feature  of  the  Trobriand  social  psychology,  that  is 


n8  CANOES  AND  SAILING 

with  their  characteristic  ambition,  vanity  and  desire  to  be 
renowned  and  well  spoken  of,  the  reader  of  the  following  pages 
will  become  very  familiar.  The  natives,  to  whom  the  Kula 
and  the  sailing  expeditions  are  so  important,  will  associate  the 
name  of  the  canoe  with  that  of  its  toli  ;  they  will  identify  his 
magical  powers  and  its  good  luck  in  sailing  and  in  the  Kula  ; 
they  will  often  speak  of  So-and-so's  sailing  here  and  'there,  of 
his  being  very  fast  in  sailing,  etc.,  using  in  this  the  man's 
name  for  that  of  the  canoe. 

Turning  now  to  the  detailed  determination  of  this  relation- 
ship, the  most  important  point  about  it  is  that  it  always  rests 
in  the  person  of  the  chief  or  headman.  As  we  have  seen  in 
our  short  account  of  the  Trobrianders'  sociology,  the  village 
community  is  always  subject  to  the  authority  of  one  chief  or 
headman.  Each  one  of  these,  whether  his  authority  extends 
over  a  small  sectional  village,  or  over  a  whole  district,  has  the 
means  of  accumulating  a  certain  amount  of  garden  produce, 
considerable  in  the  case  of  a  chief,  relatively  small  in  that  of  a 
headman,  but  always  sufficient  to  defray  the  extra  expenses 
incidental  to  all  communal  enterprise.  He  also  owns  native 
wealth  condensed  into  the  form  of  the  objects  of  value  called 
vaygu'a.  Again,  a  headman  will  have  little,  a  big  chief  a 
large  amount.  But  everyone  who  is  not  a  mere  nobody,  must 
possess  at  least  a  few  stone  blades,  a  few  kaloma  belts,  and  some 
kuwa  (small  necklets).  Thus  in  all  types  of  tribal  enterprises, 
the  chief  or  headman  is  able  to  bear  the  burden  of  expense, 
and  he  also  derives  the  main  benefit  from  the  affair.  In  the 
case  of  the  canoe,  the  chief,  as  we  saw,  acts  as  main 
organiser  in  the  construction,  and  he  also  enjoys  the  title 
of  toli. 

This  strong  economic  position  runs  side  by  side  with  his 
direct  power,  due  to  high  rank,  or  traditional  authority.  In 
the  case  of  a  small  headman,  it  is  due  to  the  fact  that  he 
is  at  the  head  of  a  big  kinship  group  (the  totemic  sub- 
clan).  Both  combined,  allow  him  to  command  labour  and 
to  reward  for  it. 

This  title  of  toliwaga,  besides  the  general  social  distinction 
which  it  confers,  implies  further  a  definite  series  of  social 
functions  with  regard  to  its  individual  bearer. 

(i)  There  are  first  the  formal  and  ceremonial  privileges. 
Thus,  the  toliwaga  has  the  privilege  of  acting  as  spokesman  of 


CANOES  AND  SAILING  119 

his  community  in  all  matters  of  sailing  or  construction.  He 
assembles  the  council,  informal  or  formal  as  the  case  may  be, 
and  opens  the  question  of  when  the  sailing  will  take  place. 
This  right  of  initiative  is  a  purely  a  nominal  one,  because  both 
in  construction  and  sailing,  the  date  of  enterprise  is  determined 
by  outward  causes,  such  as  reciprocity  to  overseas  tribes, 
seasons,  customs,  etc.  Nevertheless,  the  formal  privilege  is 
strictly  confined  to  the  toliwaga,  and  highly  valued.  The 
position  of  master  and  leader  of  ceremonies,  of  general  spokes- 
man, lasts  right  through  the  successive  stages  of  the  building 
of  the  canoe,  and  its  subsequent  use,  and  we  shall  meet  with 
it  in  all  the  ceremonial  phases  of  the  Kula. 

(2)  The  economic  uses  and  advantages  derived  from  a  canoe 
are  not  limited  to  the  toliwaga.     He,  however,  gets  the  lion's 
share.     He  has,  of  course,  in  all  circumstances,  the  privilege 
of  absolute  priority  in  being  included  in  the  party.     He  also 
receives  always  by  far  the  greatest  proportion  of  Kula  valuables, 
and  other  articles  on  every  occasion.      This,  however,  is  in 
virtue  of  his  general  position  as  chief  or  headman,  and  should 
perhaps  not  be  included  under  this  heading.     But  a   very 
definite  and  strictly  individual  advantage  is  that  of  being  able 
to  dispose  of  the  canoe  for  hire,  and  of  receiving  the  payment 
for  it.       The  canoe  can  be,  and  often  is,  hired  out  from  a 
headman,  who  at  a  given  season  has  no  intention  of  sailing,  by 
another  one,  as  a  rule  from  a  different  district,  who  embarks 
on  an  expedition.     The  reason  of  this  is,  that  the  chief  or 
headman  who  borrows,  may  at  that  time  not  be  able  to  have 
his  own  canoe  repaired,  or  construct  another  new  one.     The 
payment  for  hire  is  called  toguna,  and  it  consists  of  a  vaygu'a. 
Besides  this,  the  best  vaygu'a  obtained  on  the  expedition 
would  be  kula'd  to  the  man  from  whom  the  canoe  was  hired.* 

(3)  The  toliwaga  has  definite  social  privileges,  and  exercises 
definite  functions,  in  the  running  of  a  canoe.     Thus,  he  selects 
his  companions,  who  will  sail  in  his  canoe,  and  has  the  nominal 
right  to  choose  or  reject  those  who  may  go  on  the  expedition 
with  him.     Here  again  the  privilege  is  much  shorn  of  its 

*  The  way  of  hiring  a  masawa  (sea-going)  canoe  is  different  from  the  usual 
transaction,  when  hiring  a  fishing  canoe.  In  the  latter  case,  the  payment 
consists  of  giving  part  of  the  yield  of  fish,  and  this  is  called  uwaga.  The  same 
term  applies  to  all  payments  for  objects  hired.  Thus,  if  fishing  nets  or  hunting 
implements,  or  a  small  canoe  for  trading  along  the  coast  are  hired  out,  part 
of  the  proceeds  are  given  as  uwaga. 


120  CANOES  AND  SAILING 

value  by  many  restrictions  imposed  on  the  chief  by  the  nature 
of  things.  Thus,  on  the  one  hand,  his  veyola  (maternal 
kinsmen)  have,  according  to  all  native  ideas  of  right  and  law, 
a  strong  claim  on  the  canoe.  Again,  a  man  of  rank  in  a 
community  could  be  excluded  from  an  expedition  only  with 
difficulty,  if  he  wished  to  go  and  there  were  no  special  grievance 
against  him.  But  if  there  were  such  a  cause,  if  the  man  had 
offended  the  chief,  and  were  on  bad  terms  with  him,  he  himself 
would  not  even  try  to  embark.  There  are  actual  examples 
of  this  on  record.  Another  class  of  people  having  a  de  facto 
right  to  sail  are  the  sailing  experts.  In  the  coastal  villages 
like  Sinaketa  there  are  many  of  these  ;  in  inland  ones,  like 
Omarakana,  there  are  few.  So  in  one  of  these  inland  places, 
there  are  men  who  always  go  in  a  canoe,  whenever  it  is  used  ; 
who  have  even  a  good  deal  to  say  in  all  matters  connected 
with  sailing,  yet  who  would  never  dare  to  use  the  title  of  toli- 
waga,  and  would  even  definitely  disclaim  it  if  it  were  given  to 
them.  To  sum  up  :  the  chief's  privilege  of  choice  is  limited 
by  two  conditions,  the  rank  and  the  seamanship  of  those  he 
may  select.  As  we  have  seen,  he  fulfils  definite  functions  in 
the  construction  of  the  canoe.  We  shall  see  later  on  that  he 
has  also  definite  functions  in  sailing. 

(4)  A  special  feature,  implied  in  the  title  of  toliwaga,  is 
the  performance  of  magical  duties.  It  will  be  made  clear  that 
magic  during  the  process  of  construction  is  done  by  the  expert, 
but  magic  done  in  connection  with  sailing  and  Kula  is  done  by 
the  toliwaga.  The  latter  must,  by  definition,  know  canoe 
magic.  The  role  of  magic  in  this,  and  the  taboos,  cere- 
monial activities,  and  special  customs  associated  with  it, 
will  come  out  clearly  in  the  consecutive  account  of  a  Kula 
expedition. 

V 

(3)  The  Social  Division  of  Functions  in  the  Manning  and  Sailing 
of  the  Canoe. 

Very  little  is  to  be  said  under  this  heading  here,  since  to 
understand  this  we  must  know  more  about  the  technicalities 
of  sailing.  We  shall  deal  with  this  subject  later  on  (Chap.  IX, 
Div.  II),  and  there  the  social  organisation  within  the  canoe — 
such  as  it  is — will  be  indicated.  Here  it  may  be  said  that  a 


CANOES  AND  SAILING  121 

number  of  men  have  definite  tasks  assigned  to  them,  and  they 
keep  to  these.  As  a  rule  a  man  will  specialise,  let  us  say,  as 
steersman,  and  will  always  have  the  rudder  given  to  his  care. 
Captainship,  carrying  with  it  definite  duties,  powers  and 
responsibilities,  as  a  position  distinct  from  that  of  the  toliwaga. 
does  not  exist.  The  owner  of  the  canoe  will  always  take  the 
lead  and  give  orders,  provided  that  he  is  a  good  sailor.  Other- 
wise the  best  sailor  from  the  crew  will  say  what  is  to  be  done 
when  difficulties  or  dangers  arise.  As  a  rule,  however, 
everyone  knows  his  task,  and  everyone  performs  it  in  the  normal 
course  of  events. 

A  short  outline  of  the  concrete  details  referring  to  the 
distribution  of  canoes  in  the  Trobriands  must  be  given  here. 
A  glance  at  the  map  of  Boyowa  shows  that  various  districts 
have  not  the  same  opportunities  for  sailing,  and  not  all  of  them 
direct  access  to  the  sea.  Moreover,  the  fishing  villages  on  the 
Lagoon,  where  fishing  and  sailing  have  constantly  to  be  done, 
will  naturally  have  more  opportunities  for  cultivating  the  arts 
of  sailing  and  ship-building.  And  indeed  we  find  that  the 
villages  of  the  two  inland  districts,  Tilataula  and  Kuboma, 
know  nothing  about  shipbuilding  and  sailing,  and  possess  no 
canoes  ;  the  villages  in  Kiriwina  and  Luba,  on  the  east  coast, 
with  indirect  access  to  the  sea,  have  only  one  canoe  each,  and 
few  building  experts  ;  while  some  villagers  on  the  Lagoon  are 
good  sailors  and  excellent  builders.  The  best  centres  for 
canoe-building  are  found  in  the  islands  of  Vakuta  and  Kayleula 
and  to  a  lesser  degree  this  craft  flourishes  in  the  village  of 
Sinaketa.  The  island  of  Kitava  is  the  traditional  building 
centre,  and  at  present  the  finest  canoes  as  well  as  the  best 
canoe  carvings  come  from  there.  In  this  description  of  canoes, 
this  island,  which  really  belongs  to  the  Eastern  rather  than  to 
the  Western  branch  of  the  N.  Massim,  must  be  included  in  the 
account,  since  all  Boyowan  canoe  mythology  and  canoe  industry 
is  associated  with  Kitava. 

There  are  at  present  some  sixty-four  Masawa  canoes  in 
the  Trobriands  and  Kitava.  Out  of  these,  some  four  belong 
to  the  Northern  district,  where  Kula  is  not  practised  ;  all  the 
rest  are  built  and  used  for  the  Kula.  In  the  foregoing  chapters 
I  have  spoken  about  "  Kula  communities/1  that  is,  such  groups 
of  villages  as  carry  on  the  Kula  as  a  whole,  sail  together 
on  overseas  expeditions,  and  do  their  internal  Kula  with  o  le 


122  CANOES  AND  SAILING 

another.     We  shall  group  the  canoes  according  to  the    Kula 
community  to  which  they  belong. 

Kiriwina  . .  . .  . .  8  canoes. 

Luba  . .  ..  ..  3 

Sinaketa  . .  . .  . .  8 

Vakuta  . .  . .  . .  22       „    k 

Kayleula  . .  . .  about  20      „ 

Kitava  . .  . .  about  12       „ 

Total  for  all  Kula  communities          60  canoes. 

To  this  number,  the  canoes  of  the  Northern  district  must 
be  added,  but  they  are  never  used  in  the  Kula.  In  olden  days,, 
this  figure  was,  on  a  rough  estimate,  more  than  double  of  what 
it  is  now,  because,  first  of  all,  there  are  some  villages  which 
had  canoes  in  the  old  days  and  now  have  none,  and  then  the 
number  of  villages  which  became  extinct  a  few  generations 
ago  is  considerable.  About  half  a  century  ago,  there  were  in 
Vakuta  alone  about  sixty  canoes,  in  Sinaketa  at  least  twenty, 
in  Kitava  thirty,  in  Kiriwina  twenty,  and  in  Luba  ten.  When 
all  the  canoes  from  Sinaketa  and  Vakuta  sailed  south,  and 
some  twenty  to  thirty  more  joined  them  from  the  Amphletts 
and  Tewara,  quite  a  stately  fleet  would  approach  Dobu. 

Turning  now  to  the  list  of  ownership  in  Kiriwina,  the  most 
important  canoe  is,  of  course,  that  owned  by  the  chief  of 
Omarakana.  This  canoe  always  leads  the  fleet ;  that  is  to 
say,  on  big  ceremonial  Kula  sailings,  called  uvalaktt,  it  has  the 
privileged  position.  It  lives  in  a  big  shed  on  the  beach  of 
Kaulukuba  (see  Plates  XXII,  XXX),  distant  about  one  mile 
from  the  village,  the  beach  on  which  also  each  new  canoe  is 
made.  The  present  canoe  (see  Plates  XXI  and  XLI)  is  called 
Nigada  Bu'a — "  begging  for  an  areca-nut."  Every  canoe 
has  a  personal  name  of  its  own,  sometimes  just  an  appropriate 
expression,  like  the  one  quoted,  sometimes  derived  from  some 
special  incident.  When  a  new  canoe  is  built,  it  often  inherits 
the  name  of  its  predecessor,  but  sometimes  it  gets  a  new  name. 
The  present  Omarakana  canoe  was  constructed  by  a  master- 
builder  from  Kitava,  who  also  carved  the  ornamental  prow- 
board.  There  is  no  one  now  in  Omarakana  who  can  build  or 
carve  properly.  The  magic  over  the  latter  stages  ought  to 
have  been  recited  by  the  present  chief,  To'uluwa,  but  as  he 


CANOES  AND  SAILING  123 

has  very  little  capacity  for  remembering  spells,  the  magic  was 
performed  by  one  of  his  kinsmen. 

All  the  other  canoes  of  Kiriwina  are  also  housed  in  hangars, 
each  on  a  beach  of  clean,  white  sand  on  the  Eastern  coast. 
The  chief  or  headman  of  "each  village  is  the  toliwaga.  In 
Kasana'i,  the  sub-village  of  Omarakana,  the  canoe,  called  in 
feigned  modesty  tokwabu  (something  like  ' 'landlubber"),  was 
built  by  Ibena,  a  chief  of  equal  rank,  but  smaller  power  than 
To'uluwa,  and  he  is  also  the  toliwaga.  Some  other  characteristic 
names  of  the  canoes  are: — Kuyamataym1 — "Take  care  of 
yourself,"  that  is,  "  because  I  shall  get  ahead  of  you  "  ;  the 
canoe  of  Liluta,  called  Siya'i,  which  is  the  name  of  a  Govern- 
ment station,  where  some  people  from  Liluta  were  once 
imprisoned  ;  Topusa — a  flying  fish  ;  Yagwa'u — a  scarecrow  ; 
Akamta'u — "  I  shall  eat  men,"  because  the  canoe  was  a  gift 
from  the  cannibals  of  Dobu. 

In  the  district  of  Luba  there  are  at  present  only  three 
canoes ;  one  belongs  to  the  chief  of  highest  rank  in  the  village 
of  Olivilevi.  This  is  the  biggest  canoe  in  all  the  Trobriands. 
Two  are  in  the  village  of  Wawela,  and  belong  to  two  headmen, 
each  ruling  over  a  section  of  the  village ;  one  of  them  is  seen 
being  relashed  on  Plate  XXVII. 

The  big  settlement  of  Sinaketa,  consisting  of  sectional 
villages,  has  also  canoes.  There  are  about  four  expert  builders 
and  carvers,  and  almost  every  man  there  knows  a  good  deal 
about  construction.  In  Vakuta  the  experts  are  even  more 
numerous,  and  this  is  also  the  case  in  Kayleula  and  Kitava, 


CHAPTER   V 
THE    CEREMONIAL    BUILDING    OF    A    WAGA 

I 

THE  building  of  the  sea-going  canoe  (masawa)  is  inextricably 
bound  up  with  the  general  proceedings  of  the  Kula.  As  we 
have  said  before,  in  all  villages  where  Kula  is  practised  the 
masawa  canoes  are  built  and  repaired  only  in  direct 
connection  with  it.  That  is,  as  soon  as  a  Kula  expedition  is 
decided  upon,  and  its  date  fixad,  all  the  canoes  of  the  village 
must  be  overhauled,  and  those  too  old  for  repair  must  be 
replaced  by  new  ones.  As  the  overhauling  differs  only  slightly 
from  building  in  the  later,  ceremonial  stages  of  the  procedure, 
the  account  in  this  chapter  .covers  both. 

To  the  native,  the  construction  of  the  canoe  is  the  first 
link  in  the  chain  of  the  Kula  performances.  From  the  moment 
that  the  tree  is  felled  till  the  return  of  the  oversea  party,  there 
is  one  continuous  flow  of  events,  following  in  regular  succession. 
Not  only  that  :  as  we  shall  see,  the  technicalities  of  construction 
are  interrupted  and  punctuated  by  magical  rites.  Some  of 
these  refer  to  the  canoe,  others  belong  to  the  Kula.  Thus, 
canoe-building  and  the  first  stage  of  Kula  dovetail  into  one 
another.  Again,  the  launching  of  the  canoe,  and  especially  the 
kabigidoya  (the  formal  presentation  visit)  are  in  one  respect 
the  final  acts  of  canoe-building,  and  in  another  they  belong 
to  the  Kula.  In  giving  the  account  of  canoe -building,  therefore, 
we  start  on  the  long  sequence  of  events  which  form  a  Kula 
expedition.  No  account  of  the  Kula  could  be  considered 
complete  in  which  canoe-building  had  been  omitted. 

In  this  chapter,  the  incidents  will  be  related  one  after  the 
other  as  they  happen  in  the  normal  routine  of  tribal  life, 
obeying  the  commands  of  custom,  and  the  indications  of 
belief,  the  latter  acting  more  rigidly  and  strongly  even  than 
the  former.  It  will  be  necessary,  in  following  this  consecutive 
account,  to  keep  in  mind  the  definite,  sociological  mechanism 


X 

X 


BUILDING  OF  WAGA  125 

underlying  the  activities,  and  the  system  of  ideas  at  work  in 
regulating  labour  and  magic.  The  social  organisation  has 
been  described  in  the  previous  chapter.  We  shall  remember 
that  the  owner,  the  expert  or  experts,  a  small  group  of  helpers, 
and  the  whole  community  are  the  social  factors,  each  of  which 
fulfils  a  different  function  in  the  organisation  and  performance 
of  work.  As  to  the  magical  ideas  which  govern  the  various 
rites,  they  will  be  analysed  later  on  in  the  course  of  this  and 
some  of  the  following  chapters,  and  also  in  Chapter  XVII. 
Here  it  must  suffice  to  say  that  they  belong  to  several  different 
systems  of  ideas.  The  one  based  on  the  myth  of  the  flying 
canoe  refers  directly  to  the  canoe;  it  aims  at  imparting  a 
general  excellence,  and  more  especially  the  quality  of  speed 
to  the  canoe.  The  rites  of  the  other  type  are  really  exorcisms 
directed  against  evil  bewitchment  (bulubwalata)  of  which  the 
natives  are  much  afraid.  The  third  system  of  magic  (performed 
during  canoe  construction)  is  the  Kula  magic,  based  on  its 
own  mythological  cycle,  and  although  performed  on  the  canoe, 
yet  aiming  at  the  imparting  of  success  to  the  toliwaga  in  his 
Kula  transactions.  Finally,  at  the  beginnings  of  the  pro- 
ceedings there  is  some  rnagic  addressed  to  the  tokway,  the 
malignant  wood  sprite. 

The  construction  of  the  canoe  is  done  in  two  main  stages, 
differing  from  one  another  in  the  character  of  the  work,  in  the 
accompanying  magic,  and  in  the  general  sociological  setting. 
In  the  first  stage,  the  component  parts  of  the  canoe  are  prepared. 
A  big  tree  is  cut,  trimmed  into  a  log,  then  hollowed  out  and 
made  into  the  basic  dug-out ;  the  planks,  boards,  poles,  and 
sticks  are  prepared.  This  is  achieved  by  slow,  leisurely  work, 
and  it  is  done  by  the  canoe-builder  with  the  assistance  of  a  few 
helpers,  usually  his  relatives  or  friends  or  else  those  of  the 
toliwaga.  This  stage  generally  takes  a  long  time,  some  two 
to  six  months,  and  is  done  in  fits  and  starts, as  other  occupations 
allow,  or  the  mood  comes.  The  spells  and  rites  which  accom- 
pany it  belong  to  the  tokway  magic,  and  to  that  of  the  flying 
canoe  cycle.  To  this  first  stage  also  belongs  the  carving  of  the 
decorative  prow-boards.  This  is  done  sometimes  by  the  builder, 
sometimes  by  another  expert,  if  the  builder  cannot  carve. 

The  second  stage  is  done  by  means  of  intense  communal 
labour.  As  a  rule  this  stage  is  spread  over  a  short  time,  only 
perhaps  a  week  or  two — including  the  pauses  between  work. 


126  BUILDING  OF  WAGA 

The  actual  labour,  in  which  the  whole  community  is  ener- 
getically engaged,  takes  up  only  some  three  to  five  days.  The 
work  consists  of  the  piecing  together  of  the  planks  and  prow- 
boards,  and,  in  case  these  do  not  fit  well,  of  trimming  them 
appropriately,  and  then  of  the  lashing  them  together.  Next 
comes  the  piecing  and  lashing  of  the  outrigger,  caulking  and 
painting  of  the  canoe.  Sail-making  is  also  done  at  this  time,  and 
belongs  to  this  stage.  As  a  rule,  the  main  body  of  the  canoe 
is  constructed  at  one  sitting,  lasting  about  a  day  ;  that  is,  the 
prow-boards  are  put  in,  the  ribs  and  planks  fitted  together, 
trimmed  and  lashed.  Another  day  is  devoted  to  the  attaching 
of  the  float  and  binding  of  the  outrigger  frame  and  the  platform. 
Caulking  and  painting  are  done  at  another  sitting,  or  perhaps 
at  two  more,  while  the  sail  is  made  on  yet  another  day.  These 
times  are  only  approximate,  since  the  size  of  the  canoe,  as  well 
as  the  number  of  people  participating  in  communal  labour, 
greatly  varies.  The  second  stage  of  canoe-building  is  accom- 
panied by  Kula  magic,  and  by  a  series  of  exorcisms  on  the 
canoe,  and  the  magic  is  performed  by  the  owner  of  the  canoe, 
and  not  by  the  builder  or  expert.  This  latter,  however, 
directs  the  technicalities  of  the  proceedings,  in  which  he  is 
assisted  and  advised  by  builders  from  other  villages  ;  by 
sailing  experts,  and  by  the  toliwaga  and  other  notables.  The 
lashing  of  the  canoe  with  a  specially  strong  creeper,  called 
wayugo,  is  accompanied  by  perhaps  the  most  important  of  the 
rites  and  spells  belonging  to  the  flying  canoe  magic. 

II 

After  the  decision  to  build  a  waga  has  been  taken,  a  tree 
suitable  for  the  main  log  has  to  be  chosen.  This,  in  the  Tro- 
briands,  is  not  a  very  easy  task.  As  the  whole  plain  is  taken 
up  by  garden  land,  only  the  small  patches  of  fertile  soil  in  the 
coral  ridge  which  runs  all  round  the  island,  remain  covered 
with  jungle.  There  the  tree  must  be  found,  there  felled,  and 
thence  transported  to  the  village. 

Once  the  tree  is  chosen,  the  toliwaga,  the  builder  and  a  few 
helpers  repair  to  the  spot,  and  a  preliminary  rite  must  be 
performed,  before  they  begin  to  cut  it  down.  A  small  incision 
is  made  into  the  trunk,  so  that  a  particle  of  food,  or  a  bit  of 
areca-nut  can  be  put  into  it.  Giving  this  as  an  offering  to  the 
tokway  (wood  sprite),  the  magician  utters  an  incantation  : — 


BUILDING  OF  WAGA  127 

VABUSI  TOKWAY  SPELL. 

"  Come  down,  0  wood  sprites,  O  Tokway,  dwellers  in 
branches,  come  down  !  Come  down,  dwellers  in  branch 
forks,  in  branch  shoots  !  Come  down,  come,  eat  !  Go  to 
your  coral  outcrop  over  there  ;  crowd  there,  swarm  there, 
be  noisy  there,  scream  there  ! 

"  Step  down  from  our  tree,  old  men  !  This  is  a  canoe 
ill  spoken  of  ;  this  is  a  canoe  out  of  which  you  have  been 
shamed ;  this  is  a  canoe  out  of  which  you  have  been 
expelled  !  At  sunrise  and  morning,  you  help  us  in  felling 
the  canoe  ;  this  our  tree,  old  men,  let  it  go  and  fall  down  !  " 

This  spell,  given  in  free  translation,  whicK,  however, 
follows  the  original  very  closely,  word  for  word,  is  far  clearer 
than  the  average  sample  of  Trobriand  magic.  In  the  first 
part,  the  tokway  is  invoked  under  various  names,  and  invited 
to  leave  his  abode,  and  to  move  to  some  other  place,  and  there 
to  be  at  his  ease  In  the  second  part,  the  canoe  is  mentioned 
with  several  epithets,  all  of  which  denote  an  act  of  discourtesy 
or  ill-omen.  This  is  obviously  done  to  compel  the  tokway  to 
leave  the  tree.  In  Boyowa,  the  yoba,  the  chasing  away,  is 
under  circumstances  a  great  insult,  and  at  times  it  commands 
immediate  compliance.  This  is  always  the  case  when  the 
chaser  belongs  to  the  local  sub-clan  of  a  village,  and  the 
person  expelled  does  not.  But  the  yoba  is  always  an  act  of 
considerable  consequence,  never  used  lightly,  and  in  this 
spell,  it  carries  these  sociological  associations  with  it.  In  the 
usual  anticipatory  way,  characteristic  of  native  speech,  the 
tree  is  called  in  the  spell  "  canoe  "  (waga). 

The  object  of  this  spell  is  written  very  plainly  in  every 
word  of  it,  and  the  natives  also  confirm  it  by  saying  that  it 
is  absolutely  necessary  to  get  rid  of  the  tokway.  What  would 
happen,  however,  if  the  tokway  were  not  expelled,  is  not  so 
unequivocally  laid  down  by  tradition,  and  it  cannot  be  read 
out  of  the  spell  or  the  rite.  Some  informants  say  that  the 
canoe  would  be  heavy ;  others  that  the  wood  would  be  full 
of  knots,  and  that  there  would  be  holes  in  the  canoe,  or  that 
it  would  quickly  rot. 

But  though  the  rationale  of  the  expulsion  is  not  so  well 
defined,  the  belief  in  the  tokway's  evil  influence,  and  in  the 
dangers  associated  with  his  presence  is  positive.  And  this  is 
in  keeping  with  the  general  nature  of  the  tokway,  as  we  find 


128  BUILDING  OF  WAGA 

him  delineated  by  native  belief.  The  tokway  is  on  the  whole  a 
harmful  being,  though  the  harm  he  does  is  seldom  more  than 
an  unpleasant  trick,  perhaps  a  sudden  fright,  an  attack  of 
shooting  pains,  or  a  theft.  The  tokway  live  in  trees  or  in  coral 
rocks  and  boulders,  usually  in  the  raybwag,  the  primeval 
jungle,  growing  on  the  coastal  ridge,  full  of  outcrops  and 
rocks.  Some  people  have  seen  a  tokway,  although  heas  invisible 
at  will.  His  skin  is  brown,  like  that  of  any  Boyowan,  but  he 
has  long,  sleek  hair,  and  a  long  beard.  He  comes  often  at 
night,  and  frightens  people.  But,  though  seldom  seen,  the 
tokway's  wailing  is  often  heard  from  the  branches  of  a  big  tree, 
and  some  trees  evidently  harbour  more  tokways  than  others, 
since  you  can  hear  them  very  easily  there.  Sometimes,  over 
such  trees,  where  people  often  hear  the  tokway  and  get  a  fright, 
the  above  quoted  incantation  and  rite  are  performed. 

In  their  contact  with  men,  the  tokway  show  their  un- 
pleasant side  ;  often  they  come  at  night  and  steal  food.  Many 
cases  can  be  quoted  when  a  man,  as  it  seemed,  was  surprised 
in  the  act  of  stealing  yams  out  of  a  storehouse,  but  lo  !  when 
approached  he  disappeared — it  was  a  tokway.  Then,  sickness 
in  some  of  its  lighter  forms  is  caused  by  the  tokway.  Shooting 
pains,  pricking  and  stabbing  in  one's  inside,  are  often  due  to 
him,  for  he  is  in  possession  of  magic  by  which  he  can  insert 
small,  sharp-edged  and  sharp-pointed  objects  into  the  body. 
Fortunately  some  men  know  magic  by  which  to  extract  such 
objects.  These  men,  of  course,  according  to  the  general  rule 
of  sorcery,  can  also  inflict  the  same  ailments.  In  olden  days, 
the  tokway  gave  both  the  harmful  and  beneficent  magic  to  some 
men,  and  ever  since,  this  form  of  sorcery  and  of  concomitant 
healing  have  been  handed  on  from  one  generation  to  another. 

Let  us  return  to  our  canoe,  however.  After  the  rite  has 
been  performed,  the  tree  is  felled.  In  olden  days,  when  stone 
implements  were  used,  this  must  have  been  a  laborious  process, 
in  which  a  number  of  men  were  engaged  in  wielding  the  axe, 
and  others  in  re-sharpening  the  blunted  or  broken  blades.  The 
old  technique  was  more  like  nibbling  away  the  wood  in  small 
chips,  and  it  must  have  taken  a  long  time  to  cut  out  a  sufficiently 
deep  incision  to  fell  the  tree.  After  the  tree  is  on  the  ground, 
the  preliminary  trimming  is  done  on  the  spot.  The  branches 
are  lopped  off,  and  the  log  of  appropriate  length  is  made  out  of 
the  tree.  This  log  is  cut  into  the  rough  shape  of  a  canoe,  so 


BUILDING  OF  WAGA  129 

as  to  make  it  as  light  as  possible,  for  now  it  has  to  be  pulled 
to  the  village  or  to  the  beach. 

The  transporting  of  the  log  is  not  an  easy  task,  as  it  has  to 
be  taken  out  of  the  uneven,  rocky  raybwag,  and  then  pulled 
along  very  bad  roads.  Pieces  of  wood  are  put  on  the  ground 
every  few  metres,  to  serve  as  slips  on  which  the  log  can  more 
easily  glide  than  on  the  rocks  and  uneven  soil.  In  spite  of 
that,  and  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  many  men  are  summoned 
to  assist,  the  work  of  pulling  the  log  is  very  heavy.  The  men 
receive  food  in  payment  for  it.  Pig  flesh  is  cooked  and  dis- 
tributed with  baked  yams  ;  at  intervals  during  the  work  they 
refresh  themselves  with  green  coco-nut  drinks  and  with 
sucking  sugar  cane.  Gifts  of  such  food,  given  during  work  in 
payment  of  communal  labour,  are  called  puwaya.  To  describe 
how  heavy  the  work  sometimes  is,  the  native  will  say,  in  a 
characteristically  figurative  manner : 

"  The  pig,  the  coco  drinks,  the  yams  are  finished,  and 
yet  we  pull — very  heavy  !  " 

In  such  cases  the  natives  resort  to  a  magical  rite  which  makes 
the  canoe  lighter.  A  piece  of  dry  banana  leaf  is  put  on  top  of 
the  log.  The  owner  or  builder  beats  the  log  with  a  bunch  of 
dry  lalang  grass  and  utters  the  following  spell  : 

KAYMOMWA'U  SPELL. 

"  Come  down,  come  down,  defilement  by  contact  with 
excrement  !  Come  down,  defilement  by  contact  with 
refuse  !  Come  down,  heaviness  !  Come  down,  lot  ! 
Come  down  fungus !  .  .  ."  and  so  on,  invoking  a  number 
of  deteriorations  to  leave  the  log,  and  then  a  number  of 
defilements  and  broken  taboos.  In  other  words,  the 
heaviness  and  slowness,  due  to  all  these  magical  causes, 
are  thrown  out  of  the  log. 

This  bunch  of  grass  is  then  ritually  thrown  away.  It  is 
called  momwa'u,  or  the  "  heavy  bunch."  Another  handful  of 
the  long  lalang  grass,  seared  and  dry,  is  taken,  and  this  is  the 
gagabile,  the  "  light  bunch,"  and  with  this  the  canoe  is  again 
beaten.  The  meaning  of  the  rite  is  quite  plain  :  the  first 
bunch  takes  into  it  the  heaviness  of  the  log,  and  the  second 
imparts  lightness  to  it.  Both  spells  also  express  this  meaning 
in  plain  terms.  The  second  spell,  recited  with  the  gagabile 
bunch,  runs  thus : 


130  BUILDING  OF  WAGA 

KAYGAGABILE  SPELL 

"  He  fails  to  outrun  me  "  (repeated  many  times).  "  The 
canoe  trembles  with  speed  "  (many  times).  A  few  un- 
translatable words  are  uttered  ;  then  a  long  chain  of 
ancestral  names  is  invoked.  "  I  lash  you,  0  tree  ;  the 
tree  flies  ;  the  tree  becomes  like  a  breath  of  wind  ;  the 
tree  becomes  like  a  butterfly  ;  the  tree  becomes  like  a 
cotton  seed  fluff.  One  sun  "  (i.e.,  time)  "  for  my  com- 
panions, midday  sun,  setting  sun ;  another  sun  for  me " 

(here  the  reciter's  name  is  uttered) — "  the  rising  sun,  the 
rays  of  the  (rising)  sun,  (the  time  of)  opening  the  huts, 
(the  time  of  the)  rising  of  the  morning  star  !  "  The  last 
part  means  :  "  My  companions  arrive  at  sunset,  while  I 
arrive  with  the  rising  sun  " — (indicating  how  far  my  canoe 
exceeds  them  in  speed.)* 

These  formulae  are  used  both  to  make  the  log  lighter  for 
the  present  purpose  of  pulling  it  into  the  village,  and  in  order 
to  give  it  greater  speed  in  general,  when  it  is  made  up  into  a 
waga. 

After  the  log  has  been  finally  brought  into  the  village,  and 
left  on  the  baku,  the  main  central  place,  the  creeper  by  means 
of  which  it  has  been  pulled  and  which  is  called  in  this  connection 
duku,  is  not  cut  away  at  once.  This  is  done  ceremonially  on 
the  morning  of  the  following  day,  sometimes  after  even  two  or 
three  days  have  passed.  The  men  of  the  community  assemble, 
and  the  one  who  will  scoop  out  the  canoe,  the  builder  (tota'ila 
waga,  "  the  cutter  of  the  canoe  ")  performs  a  magical  rite. 
He  takes  his  adze  (ligogu)  and  wraps  some  very  light  and  thin 
herbs  round  the  blade  with  a  piece  of  dried  banana  leaf,  itself 
associated  with  the  idea  of  lightness.  This  he  wraps  only  half 
round,  so  that  a  broad  opening  is  left,  and  the  breath  and  voice 
have  free  access  to  the  herbs  and  blade  of  the  adze.  Into  this 
opening,  the  magician  chants  the  following  long  spell : 

KAPITUNENA  DUKU  SPELL. 

"  I  shall  wave  them  back,  (i.e.,  prevent  all  other  canoes 
from  overtaking  me)  !  "  repeated  many  times.  "  On  the 
top  of  Si'a  Hill ;  women  of  Tokuna ;  my  mother  a  sorceress, 
myself  a  sorcerer.  It  dashes  forward,  it  flies  ahead. 
The  canoe  body  is  light  ;  the  pandanus  streamers  are 

*  The  words  within  brackets  in  this  and  m  some  of  the  following  spells 
arc  free  additions,  necessary  to  make  the  meaning  clear  in  the  English  version. 
They  are  implied  by  the  context  in  the  native  original,  though  not  explicitly 
contained. 


BUILDING  OF  WAGA  131 

aflutter  ;  the  prow  skims  the  waves  ;  the  ornamental 
boards  leap,  like  dolphins  ;  the  tabuyo  (small  prow-board) 
breaks  the  waves ;  the  lagim'  (transversal  prow-board) 
breaks  the  waves.  Thou  sleepest  in  the  mountain,  thou 
sleepest  in  Kuyawa  Island.  We  shall  kindle  a  small 
fire  of  lalang  grass,  we  shall  burn  aromatic  herbs  (i.e.,  at 
our  destination  in  the  mountains)  !  Whether  new  or  old 
thou  goest  ahead/' 

This  is  the  exordium  of  the  formula.  Then  comes  a 
very  long  middle  part,  in  a  form  very  characteristic  of 
Trobriand  magic.  This  form  resembles  a  litany,  in  so  far 
as  a  key  word  or  expression  is  repeated  many  times  with 
a  series  of  complementary  words  and  expressions.  Then 
the  first  key  word  is  replaced  by  another,  which  in  its 
turn,  is  repeated  with  the  same  series  of  expressions  ; 
then  comes  another  key  word,  and  so  on.  We  have  thus 
two  series  of  words  ;  each  term  of  the  first  is  repeated  over 
and  over  again,  with  all  terms  of  the  second,  and  in  this 
manner,  with  a  limited  number  of  words,  a  spell  is  very 
much  lengthened  out,  since  its  length  is  the  product  of 
the  length  of  both  series.  In  shorter  spells,  there  may  be 
only  one  key  word,  and  in  fact,  this  is  the  more  usual 
type.  In  this  spell,  the  first  series  consists  of  nouns 
denoting  different  parts  of  the  canoe  ;  the  second  are 
verbs,  such  as  :  to  cut,  to  fly,  to  speed,  to  cleave  a  fleet 
of  other  canoes,  to  disappear,  to  skim  over  the  waves. 
Thus  the  litany  runs  in  such  a  fashion  :  "  The  tip  of  my 
canoe  starts,  the  tip  of  my  canoe  flies,  the  tip  of  my  canoe 
speeds,  etc.,  etc."  After  the  long  litany  has  been  chanted, 
the  magician  repeats  the  exordium,  and  finishes  it  off 
with  the  conventional  onomatopoetic  word  saydididi — 
which  is  meant  to  imitate  the  flying  of  the  witches. 

After  the  recital  of  this  long  spell  over  the  herbs  and  blade 
of  his  adze,  the  magician  wraps  up  the  dry  banana  leaf,  thus 
imprisoning  the  magical  virtue  of  the  spell  round  the  blade, 
and  with  this,  he  strikes  and  cuts  through  the  duku  (the  creeper 
used  for  the  pulling  of  the  canoes.) 

With  this,  the  magic  is  not  over  yet,  for  on  the  same 
evening,  when  the  canoe  is  put  on  transversal  logs  (nigakulu), 
another  rite  has  to  be  carried  o.ut.  Some  herbs  are  placed  on 
the  transversals  between  them  and  the  body  of  the  big  canoe 
log.  Over  these  herbs,  again,  another  spell  has  to  be  uttered. 
In  order  not  to  overload  this  account  with  magical  texts,  I 
shall  not  adduce  this  spell  in  detail.  Its  wording  also  plainly 


I32  BUILDING  OF  WAGA 

indicates  that  it  is  speed  magic,  and  it  is  a  short  formula  running 
on  directly,  without  cross-repetitions. 

After  that,  for  some  days,  the  outside  of  the  canoe  body 
is  worked.  Its  two  ends  must  be  cut  into  tapering  shape,  and 
the  bottom  evened  and  smoothed.  After  that  is  done,  the  canoe 
has  to  be  turned  over,  this  time  into  its  natural  position,  bottom 
down,  and  what  is  to  be  the  opening,  upwards.  "Before  the 
scooping  out  begins,  another  formula  has  to  be  recited  over  the 
kavilali,  a  special  ligogu  (adze),  used  for  scooping  out,  which  is 
inserted  into  a  handle  with  a  moveable  part,  which  then  allows 
the  cutting  to  be  done  at  varying  angles  to  the  plane  of  striking. 

The  rite  stands  in  close  connection  to  the  myth  of  the 
flying  canoe,  localised  in  Kudayuri,  a  place  in  the  Island  of 
Kitava,  and  many  allusions  are  made  to  this  myth.*  After 
a  short  exordium,  containing  untranslatable  magical  words, 
and  geographical  references,  the  spell  runs  : 

LIGOGU  SPELL. 

"  I  shall  take  hold  of  an  adze,  I  shall  strike  !  I  shall 
enter  my  canoe,  I  shall  make  thee  fly,  O  canoe,  I  shall 
make  thee  jump  !  We  shall  fly  like  butterflies,  like  wind  ; 
we  shall  disappear  in  mist,  we  shall  vanish.  You  will 
pierce  the  straits  of  Kadimwatu  (between  the  islands  of 
Tewara  and  Uwama)  you  will  break  the  promontory  of 
Saramwa  (near  Dobu),  pierce  the  passage  of  Loma  (in 
Dawson  Straits),  die  away  in  the  distance,  die  away  with 
the  wind,  fade  away  with  the  mist,  vanish  away.  Break 
through  your  seaweeds  (i.e.,  on  coming  against  the  shore). 
Put  on  your  wreath  (probably  an  allusion  to  the  sea- 
weeds), make  your  bed  in  the  sand.  I  turn  round,  I  see 
the  Vakuta  men,  the  Kitava  men  behind  me  ;  my  sea, 
the  sea  of  Pilolu  (i.e.,  the  sea  between  the  Trobriands  and 
the  Amphletts)  ;  to-day  the  Kudayuri  men  will  burn 
their  fires  (i.e.,  on  the  shores  of  Dobu).  Bind  your  grass 
skirt  together,  O  canoe  "  (here  the  personal  name  of  the 
canoe  is  mentioned),  "  fly  !  "  The  last  phrase  contains  an 
implicit  hint  that  the  canoe  partakes  of  the  nature  of  a 
flying  witch,  as  it  should,  according  to  the  Kudayuri  myth. 

After  this,  the  canoe-builder  proceeds  to  scoop  out  the 
log.  This  is  a  long  task,  and  a  heavy  one,  and  one  which 
requires  a  good  deal  of  skill,  especially  towards  the  end,  when  the 
walls  of  the  dug-out  have  to  be  made  sufficiently  thin,  and  when 

*  Compare  therefore  Chapter  XII,  Division  IV. 


BUILDING  OF  WAGA  133 

the  wood  has  to  be  taken  off  evenly  over  the  whole  surface. 
Thus,  although  at  the  beginning  the  canoe  carpenter  is  usually 
helped  by  a  few  men — his  sons  or  brothers  or  nephews  who  in 
assisting  him  also  learn  the  trade— towards  the  end  he  has  to 
do  the  work  single-handed.  It,  therefore,  always  happens 
that  this  stage  takes  a  very  long  time.  Often  the  canoe  will 
lie  for  weeks,  untouched,  covered  with  palm  leaves  against 
the  sun,  and  filled  with  some  water  to  prevent  drying  and 
cracking  (see  Plate  XXV).  Then  the  carpenter  will  set  to 
work  for  a  few  days,  and  pause  again.  In  almost  all  villages, 
the  canoe  is  put  up  in  the  central  place,  or  before  the  builder's 
hut.  In  some  of  the  Eastern  villages,  the  scooping  out  is  done 
on  the  sea  beach,  to  avoid  pulling  the  heavy  log  to  and  from  the 
village. 

Parallel  with  the  process  of  hollowing  out,  the  other  parts 
of  the  canoe  are  made  ready  to  be  pieced  together.  Four 
broad  and  long  planks  form  the  gunwale  ;  L-shaped  pieces  of 
wood  are  cut  into  ribs  ;  long  poles  are  prepared  for  longi- 
tudinal support  of  the  ribs,  and  for  platform  rafters  ;  short 
poles  are  made  ready  as  transversals  of  the  platform  and  main 
supports  of  the  outrigging  ;  small  sticks  to  connect  the  float 
with  the  transversals  ;  finally,  the  float  itself,  a  long,  bulky 
log.  These  are  the  main,  constituent  parts  of  a  canoe,  to  be 
made  by  the  builder.  The  four  carved  boards  are  also  made 
by  him  if  he  knows  how  to  carve,  otherwise  another  expert 
has  to  do  this  part  of  the  work  (see  Plate  XXVI). 

When  all  the  parts  are  ready,  another  magical  rite  has  to 
be  performed.  It  is  called  "  kapitunela  nanola  waga  "  :  "  the 
cutting  off  of  the  canoe's  mind/'  an  expression  which  denotes 
a  change  of  mind,  a  final  determination.  In  this  case,  the  canoe 
makes  up  its  mind  to  run  quickly.  The  formula  is  short, 
contains  at  the  beginning  a  few  obscure  words,  and  then  a  few 
geographical  references  to  some  places  in  the  d'Entrecasteaux 
Archipelago.  It  is  recited  over  a  few  drops  of  coco-nut  oil, 
which  is  then  wrapped  up  in  a  small  bundle.  The  same  spell 
is  then  again  spoken  over  the  ligogu  blade,  round  which  a  piece 
of  dry  banana  has  been  wrapped  in  the  manner  described  above. 
The  canoe  is  turned  bottom  up,  the  bundle  with  coco-nut  oil 
placed  on  it  and  struck  with  the  adze.  With  this  the  canoe  is 
ready  to  be  pieced  together,  and  the  first  stage  of  its 
construction  is  over. 


134  BUILDING  OF  WAGA 

III 

As  has  been  said  above,  the  two  stages  differ  from  one 
another  in  the  nature  of  work  done  and  in  their  sociological 
and  ceremonial  setting.  So  far,  we  have  seen  only  a  few  men 
engaged  in  cutting  the  tree  and  scooping  it  out  and  then 
preparing  the  various  parts  of  the  canoe.  Industriously,  but 
slowly  and  deliberately,  with  many  pauses,  they  toiPover  their 
work,  sitting  on  the  brown,  trodden  soil  of  the  village  in  front 
of  the  huts,  or  scooping  the  canoe  in  the  central  place.  The 
first  part  of  the  task,  the  felling  of  the  tree,  took  us  to  the  tall 
jungle  and  intricate  undergrowth,  climbing  and  festooned 
around  the  fantastic  shapes  of  coral  rocks. 

Now,  with  the  second  stage,  the  scene  shifts  to  the  clean, 
snow-white  sand  of  a  coral  beach,  where  hundreds  of  natives 
in  festive  array  crowd  around  the  freshly  scraped  body  of  the 
canoe.  The  carved  boards,  painted  in  black,  white  and  red, 
the  green  fringe  of  palms  and  jungle  trees,  the  blue  of  the  sea 
— all  lend  colour  to  the  vivid  and  lively  scene.  Thus  I  saw  the 
building  of  a  canoe  done  on  the  East  shore  of  the  Trobriands, 
and  in  this  setting  I  remember  it.  In  Sinaketa,  instead  of  the 
blue,  open  sea,  breaking  in  a  belt  of  white  foam  outside  on  the 
fringing  reef  and  coming  in  limpid  waves  to  the  beach,  there 
are  the  dull,  muddy  browns  and  greens  of  the  Lagoon,  playing 
into  pure  emerald  tints  where  the  clean  sandy  bottom  begins. 

Into  one  of  these  two  scenes,  we  must  now  imagine  the 
dug-out  transported  from  the  village,  after  all  is  ready,  and 
after  the  summons  of  the  chief  or  headman  has  gone  round  the 
neighbouring  villages.  In  the  case  of  a  big  chief,  several 
hundreds  of  natives  will  assemble  to  help,  or  to  gaze  on  the 
performance.  When  a  small  community  with  a  second-rate 
headman  construct  their  canoe,  only  a  few  dozen  people  will 
come,  the  relatives-in-law  of  the  headman  and  of  other  notables, 
and  their  close  friends. 

After  the  body  of  the  canoe  and  all  the  accessories  have  been 
placed  in  readiness,  the  proceedings  are  opened  by  a  magical 
rite,  called  Katuliliva  tabuyo.  This  rite  belongs  to  the  Kula 
magic,  for  which  the  natives  have  a  special  expression  ;  they 
call  it  mwasila.  It  is  connected  with  the  inserting  of  the 
ornamental  prow-boards  into  their  grooves  at  both  ends  of 
the  canoe.  These  ornamental  parts  of  the  canoe  are  put  in 
first  of  all,  and  this  is  done  ceremonially.  A  few  sprigs  of  the 


BUILDING  OF  WAGA  135 

mint  plant  are  inserted  under  the  boards,  as  they  are  put  in, 
and  the  toliwaga  (owner  of  the  canoe)  hammers  the  boards  in 
by  means  of  a  special  stone  imported  from  Dobu,  and  ritually 
repeats  a  formula  of  the  mwasila  magic.  The  mint  plant 
(sulumwoya)  plays  an  important  part  in  the  mwasila  (Kula 
magic)  as  well  as  in  love  spells,  and  in  the  magic  of  beauty. 
Whenever  a  substance  is  to  be  medicated  for  the  purpose  of 
charming,  seducing,  or  persuading,  as  a  rule  sulumwoya  is 
used.  This  plant  figures  also  in  several  myths,  where  it  plays 
a  similar  part,  the  mythical  hero  always  conquering  the  foe 
or  winning  a  woman  by  the  use  of  the  sulumwoya. 

I  shall  not  adduce  the  magical  formulae  in  this  account, 
with  the  exception  of  the  most  important  one.  Even  a  short 
summary  of  each  of  them  would  obstruct  the  narrative,  and  it 
would  blur  completely  the  outline  of  the  consecutive  account 
of  the  various  activities.  The  various  complexities  of  the 
magical  ritual  and  of  the  formulae  will  be  set  forth  in  Chapter 
XVII.  It  may  be  mentioned  here,  however,  that  not  only 
are  there  several  types  of  magic  performed  during  canoe 
building,  such  as  the  mwasila  (Kula  magic),  the  canoe  speed 
magic,  exorcisms  against  evil  magic,  and  exorcism  of  the  tokway, 
but  within  each  of  these  types,  there  are  different  systems  of 
magic,  each  with  its  own  mythological  basis,  each  localised  in 
a  different  district,  and  each  having  of  course  different  formulas 
and  slightly  different  rites.* 

After  the  prow-boards  are  put  in,  and  before  the  next  bit 
of  technical  work  is  done,  another  magical  rite  has  to  be 
performed.  The  body  of  the  canoe,  now  bright  with  the  three- 
coloured  boards,  is  pushed  into  the  water.  A  handful  of  leaves, 
of  a  shrub  called  bobi'u,  is  charmed  by  the  owner  or  by  the 
builder,  and  the  body  of  the  canoe  is  washed  in  sea  water  with 
the  leaves.  All  the  men  participate  in  the  washing,  and  this 
rite  is  intended  to  make  the  canoe  fast,  by  removing  the  traces 
of  any  evil  influence,  which  might  still  have  remained,  in  spite 
of  the  previous  magic,  performed  on  the  waga.  After  the  waga 
has  been  rubbed  and  washed,  it  is  pulled  ashore  again  and 
placed  on  the  skid  logs. 

Now  the  natives  proceed  to  the  main  and  most  important 
constructive  part  of  their  work  ;  this  consists  of  the  erection 
of  the  gunwale  planks  at  the  sides  of  the  dug-out  log,  so  as  to 

*  All  this  is  discussed  at  length  in  Chapter  XVII,  Division  IV. 


136  BUILDING  OF  WAGA 

form  the  deep  and  wide  well  of  the  built-up  canoe.  They  are 
kept  in  position  by  an  internal  framework  of  some  twelve  to 
twenty  pairs  of  ribs,  and  all  of  this  is  lashed  together  with  a 
special  creeper  called  wayugo,  and  the  holes  and  interstices 
are  caulked  with  a  resinous  substance. 

I  cannot  enter  here  into  details  of  building,  though  from 
the  technological  point  of  view,  this  is  the  most  interesting 
phase,  showing  us  the  native  at  grips  with  real  problems  of 
construction.  He  has  a  whole  array  of  component  parts,  and 
he  must  make  them  fit  together  with  a  considerable  degree  of 
precision,  and  that  without  having  any  exact  means  of  measure- 
ment. By  a  rough  appreciation  based  on  long  experience  and 
great  skill,  he  estimates  the  relative  shapes  and  sizes  of  the 
planks,  the  angles  and  dimensions  of  the  ribs,  and  the  lengths 
of  the  various  poles.  Then,  in  shaping  them  out,  the  builder 
tests  and  fits  them  in  a  preliminary  manner  as  work  goes  on, 
and  as  a  rule  the  result  is  good.  But  now,  when  all  these 
component  parts  have  to  be  pieced  finally  together,  it  nearly 
always  happens  that  some  bit  or  other  fails  to  fit  properly 
with  the  rest.  These  details  have  to  be  adjusted,  a  bit  taken 
off  the  body  of  the  canoe,  a  plank  or  pole  shortened,  or  even  a 
piece  added.  The  natives  have  a  very  efficient  way  of  lashing 
on  a  whole  bit  of  a  plank,  if  this  proves  too  short,  or  if,  by  some 
accident,  it  breaks  at  the  end.  After  all  has  been  finally  fitted, 
and  made  to  tally,  the  framework  of  ribs  is  put  into  the  canoe 
(see  Plate  XXVII),  and  the  natives  proceed  to  lash  them  to 
the  body  of  the  dug-out,  and  to  the  two  longitudinal  poles  to 
which  the  ribs  are  threaded. 

And  now  a  few  words  must  be  said  about  the  wayugo,  the 
lashing  creeper.  Only  one  species  of  creeper  is  used  for  the 
lashing  of  boats,  and  it  is  of  the  utmost  importance  that  this 
creeper  should  be  sound  and  strong.  It  is  this  alone  that 
maintains  the  cohesion  of  the  various  parts,  and  in  rough 
weather,  very  much  depends  on  how  the  lashings  will  stand  the 
strain.  The  other  parts  of  the  canoe — the  outrigger  poles — 
can  be  more  easily  tested,  and  as  they  are  made  of  strong, 
elastic  wood,  they  usually  stand  any  weather  quite  well.  Thus 
the  element  of  danger  and  uncertainty  in  a  canoe  is  due  mainly 
to  the  creeper.  No  wonder,  therefore,  that  the  magic  of  the 
creeper  is  considered  as  one  of  the  most  important  ritual  items 
in  canoe-building. 


BUILDING  OF  WAGA  137 

In  fact,  wayugo,  the  name  of  that  creeper  species,  is  also 
used  as  a  general  term  for  canoe  magic.  When  a  man  has  the 
reputation  of  building  or  owning  a  good  and  fast  canoe,  the 
usual  way  of  explaining  it  is  to  say  that  he  has,  or  knows  "  a 
good  wayugo."  For,  as  in  all  other  magic,  there  are  several 
types  of  wayugo  spells.  The  ritual  is  always  practically  the 
same  :  five  coils  of  the  creeper  are,  on  the  previous  day,  placed 
on  a  large  wooden  dish  and  chanted  over  in  the  ov/ner's  hut  by 
himself.  Only  exceptionally  can  this  magic  be  done  by  the 
builder.  Next  day  they  are  brought  to  the  beach  ceremonially 
on  the  wooden  plate.  In  one  of  the  wayugo  systems,  there  is 
an  additional  rite,  in  which  the  toliwaga  (canoe  owner)  takes 
a  piece  of  the  creeper,  inserts  it  into  one  of  the  holes  pierced  in 
the  rim  of  the  dug-out  for  the  lashing,  and  pulling  it  to  and  fro, 
recites  once  more  the  spell. 

In  consideration  of  the  importance  of  this  magic,  the 
formula  will  be  here  adduced  in  full.  It  consists  of  an  exordium 
(u'ula),  a  double  main  part  (tapwana],  and  a  concluding  period 
{dogma}  * 

WAYUGO  SPELL. 

In  the  u'ula  he  first  repeats  "  Sacred  (or  ritual)  eating 
of  fish,  sacred  inside,"  thus  alluding  to  a  belief  that'  the 
toliwaga  has  in  connection  with  this  magic  to  partake 
ritually  of  baked  fish.  Then  come  the  words — "  Flutter, 
betel  plant,  leaving  behind,"  all  associated  with  leading 
ideas  of  canoe  magic — the  flutter  of  pandanus  streamers  ; 
the  betel  nut,  which  the  ancestral  spirits  in  other  rites  are 
invited  to  partake  of  ;  the  speed  by  which  all  comrades 
will  be  left  behind  ! 

A  list  of  ancestral  names  follows.  Two  of  them, 
probably  mythical  personages,  have  significative  names  ; 
"  Stormy  sea  "  and  "  Foaming."  Then  the  baloma 
(spirits)  of  these  ancestors  are  asked  to  sit  on  the  canoe 
slips  and  to  chew  betel,  and  they  are  invoked  to  take  the 
pandanus  streamer  of  the  Kudayuri — a  place  in  Kitava, 
where  the  flying  canoe  magic  originated— and  plant  it  on 
top  of  Teula  or  Tewara,  the  small  island  off  the  East 
coast  of  Fergusson. 

The  magician  after  that  chants  :  "  I  shall  turn,  I  shall 
turn  towards  you,  O  men  of  Kitava,  you  remain  behind 

*  It  is  necessary  to  be  acquainted  with  the  mythology  of  canoe-building 
and  of  the  Kula  (Chapter  XII)  m  order  to  understand  thoroughly  the  meaning 
of  this  spell. 


138  BUILDING  OF  WAGA 

on  the  To'uru  beach  (in  the  Lagoon  of  Vakuta).  Before 
you  lies  the  sea  arm  of  Pilolu.  To-day,  they  kindle  the 
festive  fire  of  the  Kudayuri,  thou,  O  my  boat "  (here  the 
personal  name  of  the  boat  is  uttered),  "  bind  thy  skirts 
together  and  fly  !  "  In  this  passage — which  is  almost 
identical  with  one  in  the  previously  quoted  Ligogu  spell — 
there  is  a  direct  allusion  to  the  Kudayuri  myth,  and  to 
the  custom  of  festive  fires.  Again  the  canoe  is* addressed 
as  a  woman  who  has  to  bind  her  grass  petticoat  together 
during  her  flight,  a  reference  to  the  belief  that  a  flying 
witch  binds  her  skirts  when  starting  into  the  air  and  to 
the  tradition  that  this  myth  originates  from  Na'ukuwakula, 
one  of  the  flying  Kudayuri  sisters.  The  following  main 
part  continues  with  this  mythical  allusion  :  Na'ukuwakula 
flew  from  Kitava  through  Sinaketa  and  Kayleula  to 
Simsim,  where  she  settled  down  and  transmitted  the 
magic  to  her  progeny.  In  this  spell  the  three  places  : 
Kuyawa  (a  creek  and  hillock  near  Sinaketa),  Dikutuwa  (a 
rock  near  Kayleula),  and  La'u  (a  cleft  rock  in  the  sea 
near  Simsim,  in  the  Lousan^ay  Islands)  are  the  leading 
words  of  the  tapwana. 

The  last  sentence  of  the  first  part,  forming  a  transition 
into  the  tapwana,  runs  as  follows  :  "I  shall  grasp  the 
handle  of  the  adze,  I  shall  grip  all  the  component  parts 
of  the  canoe  " — perhaps  another  allusion  to  the  mythical 
construction  of  the  Kudayuri  canoe  (comp.  Chap.  XII, 
Div.  IV) — "  I  shall  fly  on  the  top  of  Kuyawa,  I  shall 
disappear  ;  dissolve  in  mist^  in  smoke  ;  become  like  a 
wind  eddy,  become  alone — on  top  of  Kuyawa/'  The  same 
words  are  then  repeated,  substituting  for  Kuyawa  the 
two  other  above-mentioned  spots,  one  after  the  other, 
and  thus  retracing  the  flight  of  Na'ukuwakula. 

Then  the  magician  returns  to  the  beginning  and  recites 
the  spell  over  again  up  to  the  phrase  :  "  bind  thy  skirt 
together  and  fly,"  which  is  followed  this  time  by  a  second 
tapwana  :  "I  shall  outdistance  all  my  comrades  with  the 
bottom  of  my  canoe  ;  I  shall  out-distance  all  my  comrades 
with  the  prow-board  of  my  canoe,  etc.,  etc.,"  repeating 
the  prophetic  boast  with  all  the  parts  of  the  canoe,  as  is 
usual  in  the  middle  part  of  magical  spells. 

In  the  dogina,  the  last  part,  the  magician  addresses 
the  waga  in  mythological  terms,  with  allusions  to  the 
Kudayuri  myth,  and  adds  :  "  Canoe  thou  art  a  ghost, 
thou  art  like  a  wind  eddy  ;  vanish,  0  my  canoe,  fly  ; 
break  through  your  sea-passage  of  Kadimwatu,  cleave 
through  the  promontory  of  Saramwa,  pass  through  Loma  ; 


I 


PLATE  XXVIII 


SAIL    MAKING 

Within  a  couple  of  hours  a  number  of  men  perform  this  enormous  task  of  sewing  together 

small  bands  of  pandanus  leaf  (see  Div.  Ill  and  next  Chapter  Div.  II)  till  they  form  a  sail. 

Among  the  workers  there  is  an  albino 


PLATE  XXIX 


ROLLS  OF  DRIED  PANDANUS  LEAF 

This  is  the  material  of  which  the  sail  is  made.     The  bisila  (pandanus  streamer)  is  made  of  a 
softer  variety  of  pandanus  leaf,  bleached  at  a  fire 


BUILDING  OF  WAGA  139 

die  away,  disappear,  vanish  with  an  eddy,  vanish  with 
the  mist ;  make  your  imprint  in  the  sand,  cut  through 
the  seaweed,  go,  put  on  your  wreath  of  aromatic  herbs/'* 

After  the  wayugo  has  been  ritually  brought  in,  the  lashing 
of  the  canoe  begins.  First  of  all  the  ribs  are  lashed  into  position 
then  the  planks,  and  with  this  the  body  of  the  canoe  is  ready. 
This  takes  a  varying  time,  according  to  the  number  of 
people  at  work,  and  to  the  amount  of  tallying  and  adjusting 
to  be  done  at  the  final  fitting.  Sometimes  one  whole  day's 
work  is  spent  on  this  stage,  and  the  next  piece  of  work,  the 
construction  of  the  outrigger,  has  to  be  postponed  to  another 
day.  This  is  the  next  stage,  and  there  is  no  magic  to  punctuate 
the  course  of  technical  activities.  The  big,  solid  log  is  put 
alongside  the  canoe,  and  a  number  of  short,  pointed  sticks  are 
driven  into  it.  The  sticks  are  put  in  crossways  on  the  top  of 
the  float  (lamina}.  Then  the  tops  of  these  sticks  are  again 
attached  to  a  number  of  horizontal  poles,  which  have  to  be 
thrust  through  one  side  of  the  canoe-body,  and  attached  to 
the  other.  All  this  naturally  requires  again  adjusting  and 
fitting.  When  these  sticks  and  poles  are  bound  together, 
there  results  a  strong  yet  elastic  frame,  in  which  the  canoe  and 
the  float  are  held  together  in  parallel  positions,  and  across  them 
transversely  there  run  the  several  horizontal  poles  which  keep 
them  together.  Next,  these  poles  are  bridged  over  by  many 
longitudinal  sticks  lashed  together,  and  thus  a  platform  is 
made  between  the  edge  of  the  canoe  and  the  tops  of  the  float 
sticks. 

When  that  is  done,  the  whole  frame  of  the  canoe  is  ready, 
and  there  remains  only  to  caulk  the  holes  and  interstices. 
The  caulking  substance  is  prepared  in  the  hut  of  the  toliwaga, 
and  a  spell  is  recited  over  it  on  the  evening  before  the  work  is 
begun.  Then  again,  the  whole  community  turn  out  and  do 
the  work  in  one  day's  sitting. 

The  canoe  is  now  ready  for  the  sea,  except  for  the  painting, 
which  is  only  for  ornamentation.  Three  more  magical  rites 
have  to  be  performed,  however,  before  it  is  painted  and  then 
launched.  All  three  refer  directly  to  the  canoe,  and  aim  at 
giving  it  speed.  At  the  same  time  all  three  are  exorcisms 
against  evil  influences,  resulting  from  various  defilements  or 
broken  taboos,  which  possibly  might  have  desecrated  the  waga. 

*  Compare  the  linguistic  analysis  of  this  spell  in  Chapter  XVIII. 


140  BUILDING  OF  WAGA 

The  first  is  called  Vakasulu,  which  means  something  like  "  ritual 
cooking  "  of  the  canoe.  The  toliwaga  has  tc  prepare  a  real 
witches'  cauldron  of  all  sorts  of  things,  which  afterwards  are 
burnt  under  the  bottom  of  the  canoe,  and  the  smoke  is  supposed 
to  exercise  a  speed-giving  and  cleansing  influence.  The 
ingredients  are  :  the  wings  of  a  bat,  the  nest  of  a  very  small 
bird  called  posisiku,  some  dried  bracken  leaves,  a  bit  %of  cotton 
fluff,  and  some  lalang  grass.  All  the  substances  are  associated 
with  flying  and  lightness.  The  wood  used  for  kindling  the  fire 
is  that  of  the  light-timbered  mimosa  tree  (liga).  The  twigs 
have  to  be  obtained  by  throwing  at  the  tree  a  piece  of  wood 
(never  a  stone),  and  when  the  broken-off  twig  falls,  it  must  be 
caught  in  the  hand,  and  not  allowed  to  touch  the  ground. 

The  second  rite,  called  Vaguri,  is  an  exorcism  only,  and  it 
consists  of  charming  a  stick,  and  then  knocking  the  body  of  the 
canoe  all  over  with  it.  This  expells  the  evil  witchery  (bulub- 
walata),  which  it  is  only  wise  to  suspect  has  been  cast  by  some 
envious  rivals,  or  persons  jealous  of  the  toliwaga. 

Finally,  the  third  of  these  rites,  the  Kaytapena  wagi, 
consists  in  medicating  a  torch  of  coco-leaf  with  the  appropriate 
spell,  and  fumigating  with  it  the  inside  of  the  canoe.  This 
gives  speed  and  once  more  cleanses  the  canoe. 

After  another  sitting  of  a  few  days,  the  whole  outside  of 
the  canoe  is  painted  in  three  colours.  Over  each  of  them  a 
special  spell  is  chanted  again,  the  most  important  one  over  the 
black  colour.  This  is  never  omitted,  while  the  red  and  white 
spells  are  optional.  In  the  rite  of  the  black  colour,  again,  a 
whole  mixture  of  sunstances  is  used — a  dry  bracken  leaf,  grass, 
and  a  posisiku  nest — all  this  is  charred  with  some  coco-nut 
husk,  and  the  first  strokes  of  the  black  paint  are  made  with  the 
mixture.  The  rest  is  painted  with  a  watery  mixture  of  charred 
coco-nut  For  red  colour,  a  sort  of  ochre,  imported  from  the 
d'Entrecasteaux  Islands,  is  used  ;  the  white  one  is  made  of  a 
chalky  earth,  found  in  certain  parts  of  the  sea  shore. 

Sail-making  is  done  on  another  day,  usually  in  the  village, 
by  communal  labour,  and,  with  a  number  of  people  helping, 
the  tedious  and  complicated  work  is  performed  in  a  relatively 
short  time.  The  triangular  outline  of  the  sail  is  first  pegged 
out  on  the  ground,  as  a  rule  the  old  sail  being  used  as  a  pattern. 
After  this  is  done,  tapes  of  dried  pandanus  leaf  (see  Plates 
XXVIII,  XXIX)  are  stretched  on  the  ground  and  first  fixed 


BUILDING  OF  WAGA  141 

along  the  borders  of  the  sail.  Then,  starting  at  the  apex  of 
the  triangle,  the  sail-makers  put  tapes  radiating  towards  the 
base,  sewing  them  together  with  awls  of  flying  fox  bone,  and 
using  as  thread  narrow  strips  of  specially  toughened  pandanus 
leaf.  Two  layers  of  tapes  are  sewn  one  on  top  of  the  other  to 
make  a  solid  fabric. 

IV 

The  canoe  is  now  quite  ready  to  be  launched.  But  before 
we  go  on  to  an  account  of  the  ceremonial  launching  and  the 
associated  festivities,  one  or  two  general  remarks  must  be 
made  retrospectively  about  the  proceedings  just  described. 

The  whole  of  the  first  stage  of  canoe-building,  that  is,  the 
cutting  of  the  tree,  the  scooping  out  of  the  log,  and  the  pre- 
paration of  the  other  component  parts,  with  all  their  associated 
magic,  is  done  only  when  a  new  canoe  is  built. 

But  the  second  stage  has  to  be  performed  over  all  the  canoes 
before  every  great  overseas  Kula  expedition.  On  such  an 
occasion,  all  the  canoes  have  to  be  re-lashed,  re-caulked,  and 
re-painted.  This  obviously  requires  that  they  should  all  be 
taken  to  pieces  and  then  lashed,  caulked  and  painted  exactly 
as  is  done  with  a  new  canoe.  All  the  magic  incidental  to  these 
three  processes  is  then  performed,  in  its  due  order,  over  the 
renovated  canoe.  So  that  we  can  say  about  the  second  stage 
of  canoe-building  that  not  only  is  it  always  performed  in 
association  with  the  Kula,  but  that  no  big  expedition  ever 
takes  place  without  it. 

We  have  had  a  description  of  the  magical  rites,  and  the 
ideas  which  are  implied  in  every  one  of  them  have  been  specified. 
But  there  are  one  or  two  more  general  characteristics  which 
must  be  mentioned  here.  First,  there  is  what  could  be  called 
the  "  ceremonial  dimension  "  of  magical  rites.  That  is, 
how  far  is  the  performance  of  the  rite  attended  by  the  members 
of  the  community,  if  at  all ;  and  if  so,  do  they  actively  take 
part  in  it,  or  do  they  simply  pay  keen  attention  and  behave 
as  an  interested  audience  ;  or,  though  being  present,  do  they 
pay  little  heed  and  show  only  small  interest  ? 

In  the  first  stage  of  canoe-building,  the  rites  are  performed 
by  the  magician  himself,  with  only  a  few  helpers  in  attendance, 
The  general  village  public  do  not  feel  sufficiently  interested 
and  attracted  to  assist,  nor  are  they  bound  by  custom  to  do  so, 


142  BUILDING  OF  WAGA 

The  general  character  of  these  rites  is  more  like  the  perform- 
ance of  a  technicality  of  work  than  of  a  ceremony.  The 
preparing  of  herbs  for  the  ligogu  magic,  for  instance,  and  the 
charming  it  over,  is  carried  out  in  a  matter-of-fact,  business- 
like manner,  and  nothing  in  the  behaviour  of  the  magician  and 
those  casually  grouped  around  him  would  indicate  that  anything 
specially  interesting  in  the  routine  work  is  happening. 

The  rites  of  the  second  stage  are  ipso  facto  attended  by  all 
those  who  help  in  piecing  together  and  lashing,  but  on  the  whole 
those  present  have  no  special  task  assigned  to  them  in  the  per- 
formance ol  these  rites.  As  to  the  attention  and  behaviour 
during  the  performance  of  the  magic,  much  depends  of  course  on 
whether  the  magician  officiating  is  a  chief  of  great  importance 
or  someone  of  low  rank.  A  certain  decorum  and  even  silence 
would  be  observed  in  any  case.  But  many  of  those  present 
would  turn  aside  and  go  away,  if  they  wanted  to  do  so.  The 
magician  does  not  produce  the  impression  of  an  officiating 
high  priest  performing  a  solemn  ceremony,  frut  rather  of  a 
specialised  workman  doing  a  particularly  important  piece  of 
work.  It  must  be  remembered  that  all  the  rites  are  simple, 
and  the  chanting  of  the  spells  in  public  is  done  in  a  low  voice, 
and  quickly,  without  any  specially  effective  vocal  production. 
Again,  the  caulking  and  the  wayugo  rites  are,  in  some  types  of 
magic  at  least,  performed  in  the  magician's  hut,  without  any 
attendance  whatever,  and  so  is  that  of  the  black  paint. 

Another  point  of  general  importance  is  what  could  be 
called  the  stringency  of  magic  rites.  In  canoe  magic,  for 
instance,  the  expulsion  of  the  tokway,  the  ritual  cutting  of  the 
pulling  rope,  the  magic  of  the  adze  (ligogu),  that  of  the  lashing 
creeper  (wayugo),  of  the  caulking,  and  of  the  black  paint  can 
never  be  omitted.  Whereas  the  other  rites  are  optional, 
though  as  a  rule  some  of  them  are  performed.  But  even  those 
which  are  considered  indispensable  do  not  all  occupy  the  same 
place  of  importance  in  native  mythology  and  in  native  ideas, 
which  is  clearly  expressed  in  the  behaviour  of  the  natives  and 
their  manner  of  speaking  of  them.  Thus,  the  general  term 
tor  canoe  magic  is  either  wayugo  or  ligogu,  from  which  we  can 
see  that  these  two  spells  are  considered  the  most  important. 
A  man  will  speak  about  his  wayugo  being  better  than  that  of 
the  other,  or  of  having  learnt  his  ligogu  from  his  father.  Again, 
as  we  shall  see  in  the  canoe  myth,  both  these  rites  are  explicitly 


BUILDING  OF  WAGA  143 

mentioned  there.  Although  the  expulsion  of  the  tokway  is 
always  done,  it  is  definitely  recognised  by  the  natives  as  being 
of  lesser  importance.  So  are  also  the  magic  of  caulking  and 
of  the  black  paint. 

A  less  general  point,  of  great  interest,  however,  is  that  of 
evil  magic  (bulubwalata)  and  of  broken  taboos.  I  had  to 
mention  several  exorcisms  against  those  influences,  and  some- 
thing must  be  said  about  them  here.  The  term  bulubwalata 
covers  all  forms  of  evil  magic  or  witchery.  There  is  that 
which,  directed  against  pigs,  makes  them  run  away  from  their 
owners  into  the  bush  ;  there  is  bulubwalata  for  alienating  the 
affections  of  a  wife  or  sweetheart  ;  there  is  evil  magic  against 
gardens,  and — perhaps  the  most  dreaded  one — evil  magic 
against  rain,  producing  drought  and  famine.  The  evil  magic 
against  canoes,  making  them  slow,  heavy,  and  unseaworthy, 
is  also  much  feared.  Many  men  profess  to  know  it,  but  it  is 
very  difficult  for  the  Ethnographer  to  obtain  a  formula,  and  I 
succeeded  only  in  taking  down  one.  It  is  always  supposed  to 
be  practised  by  canoe-owners  upon  the  craft  which  they  regard 
as  dangerous  rivals  of  their  own. 

There  are  many  taboos  referring  to  an  already  constructed 
canoe,  and  we  shall  meet  with  them  later  when  speaking  about 
sailing  and  handling  the  canoe.  But  before  that  stage  is 
reached,  any  defilement  with  any  unclean  substance  of  the  log 
out  of  which  the  canoe  is  scooped,  would  make  it  slow  and 
bad ;  or  if  anybody  were  to  walk  over  a  canoe  log  or  stand  on 
it  there  would  be  the  same  evil  result. 

One  more  point  must  be  mentioned  here.  As  we  have 
seen,  the  first  magical  rite,  of  the  second  stage  of  construction, 
is  performed  over  the  prow-boards.  The  question  obtrudes 
itself  as  to  whether  the  designs  on  these  boards  have  any 
magical  meaning.  It  must  be  clearly  understood  that  any 
guesswork  or  speculations  about  origins  must  be  rigidly  excluded 
from  ethnographic  field  work  like  this.  For  a  sociologically 
empirical  answer,  the  Ethnographer  must  look  to  two  classes 
of  facts.  First  of  all,  he  may  directly  question  the  natives  as 
to  whether  the  prow-boards  themselves  or  any  of  the  motives 
upon  them  are  done  for  magical  purposes.  Whether  he 
questions  the  average  man,  or  even  the  specialist  in  canoe  magic 
and  carving,  to  this  he  will  always  receive  in  Kiriwina  a 
negative  answer.  He  can  then  enquire  whether  in  the  magical 


144  BUILDING  OF  WAGA 

ritual  for  formulae  there  are  no  references  to  the  prow-boards, 
or  to  any  of  the  decorative  motives  on  them.  Here  also,  the 
evidence  on  the  whole  is  negative.  In  one  spell  perhaps,  and 
that  belonging  not  to  canoe  but  to  the  Kula  magic  (comp 
below,  Chap.  XIII,  Div.  II,  the  Kayikuna  Tabuyo  spell), 
there  can  be  found  an  allusion  to  the  prow-boards,  but  only 
to  the  term  describing  them  in  general,  and  not  to  ahy  special 
decorative  motive.  Thus  the  only  association  between  canoe 
decoration  and  canoe  magic  consists  in  the  fact  that  two  magical 
rites  are  performed  over  them,  one  mentioned  already,  and  the 
other  to  be  mentioned  at  the  beginning  of  the  next  chapter. 

The  description  of  canoe-building,  in  fact,  all  the  data 
given  in  this  chapter,  refer  only  to  one  of  the  two  types  of 
sea-going  canoe  to  be  found  in  the  Kula  district.  For  the 
natives  of  the  Eastern  half  of  the  ring  use  craft  bigger,  and  in 
certain  respects  better,  than  the  masawa.  The  main  difference 
between  the  Eastern  and  Western  type  consists  in  the  fact 
that  the  bigger  canoes  have  a  higher  gunwale  or  side,  and 
consequently  a  greater  carrying  capacity,  and  they  can  be 
immersed  deeper.  The  larger  water  board  offers  more 
resistance  against  making  leeway,  and  this  allows  the  canoes 
to  be  sailed  closer  to  the  wind.  Consequently,  the  Eastern 
canoes  can  beat,  and  these  natives  are  therefore  much  more 
independent  of  the  direction  of  the  wind  in  their  sailings. 
With  this  is  connected  the  position  of  the  mast,  which  in  this 
type  is  stepped  in  the  middle,  and  it  is  also  permanently  fixed, 
and  is  not  taken  down  every  time  after  sailing.  It  obviously, 
therefore,  need  not  be  changed  in  its  position  every  time  the 
canoe  goes  on  another  tack. 

I  have  not  seen  the  construction  of  a  nagega,  as  these 
canoes  are  called,  but  I  think  that  it  is  technically  a  much 
more  difficult  task  than  the  building  of  a  masawa.  I  was  told 
that  both  magic  and  ceremonial  of  construction  are  very  much 
the  same  in  the  building  of  both  canoes. 

The  nagega,  that  is  the  larger  and  more  seaworthy  type, 
is  used  on  the  section  of  the  Kula  ring  beginning  in  Gawa  and 
ending  in  Tubetube.  It  is  also  used  in  certain  parts  of  the 
Massim  district,  which  lie  outside  the  Kula  ring,  such  as  the 
Island  of  Sud-Est,  and  surrounding  smaller  islands,  and  it  is 
used  among  the  Southern  Massim  of  the  mainland.  But 
though  its  use  is  very  widely  spread,  its  manufacture  is  confined 


BUILDING  OF  WAGA  145 

to  only  a  few  places.  The  most  important  centres  of  nagega 
building  are  Gawa,  a  few  villages  on  Woodlark  Islands,  the 
Island  of  Panayati,  and  perhaps  one  or  two  places  on  Misima. 
From  there,  the  canoes  are  traded  all  over  the  district,  and 
indeed  this  is  one  of  the  most  important  forms  of  trade  in  this 
part  of  the  world.  The  masawa  canoes  are  used  and  manu- 
factured in  the  district  of  Dobu,  in  the  Amphletts,  in  the 
Trobriands,  in  Kitava  and  Iwa. 

One  point  of  great  importance  in  the  relation  of  these  two 
forms  of  canoe  is  that  one  of  them  has,  within  the  last  two 
generations,  been  expanding  at  the  expense  of  the  other. 
According  to  reliable  information,  gathered  at  several  points 
in  the  Trobriands  and  the  Amphletts,  the  nagega  type,  that  is 
the  heavier,  more  seaworthy  and  better-sailing  canoe,  was 
driven  out  some  time  ago  from  the  Amphletts  and  Trobriands. 
The  masawa,  in  many  respects  inferior,  but  less  difficult  to 
build,  and  swifter,  has  supplanted  the  bigger  type.  In  olden 
days,  that  is,  about  two  or  three  generations  ago,  the  nagega 
was  used  exclusively  in  Iwa,  Kitava,  Kiriwina,  Vakuta,  and 
Sinaketa,  while  the  Amphlettans  and  the  natives  of  Kayleula 
would  usually  use  the  nagega,  though  sometimes  they  would 
sail  in  masawa  canoes.  Dobu  was  the  real  home  and  head- 
quarters of  the  masawa.  When  the  shifting  began,  and  when 
it  was  completed,  I  could  not  ascertain.  But  the  fact  is  that 
nowadays  even  the  villages  of  Kitava  and  Iwa  manufacture 
the  smaller  masawa  canoe.  Thus,  one  of  the  most  important 
cultural  items  is  spreading  from  South  to  North.  There  is, 
however,  one  point  on  which  I  could  not  obtain  definite  in- 
formation :  that  is,  whether  in  the  Trobriands  the  nagega  in 
olden  days  was  imported  from  Kitava,  or  whether  it  was 
manufactured  locally  by  imported  craftsmen  (as  is  done  even 
nowadays  in  Kiriwina  at  times),  or  whether  the  Trobrianders 
themselves  knew  how  to  make  the  big  canoes.  There  is  no 
doubt,  however,  that  in  olden  days,  the  natives  of  Kitava  and 
Iwa  used  themselves  to  make  the  nagega  canoes.  The  Kudayuri 
myth  (see  Chapter  XII),  and  the  connected  magic,  refer  to 
this  type  of  canoe.  Thus  in  this  district  at  any  rate,  and 
probably  in  the  Trobriands  and  Amphletts  as  well,  not  only 
the  use,  but  also  the  manufacture  of  the  bigger  canoe  has  been 
superseded  by  that  of  the  smaller  one,  the  masawa,  now  found 
in  all  these  parts. 


CHAPTER  VI 

LAUNCHING    OF    A    CANOE    AND    CEREMONIAL 
VISITING— TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 


THE  canoe,  painted  and  decorated,  stands  now  ready  to  be 
launched,  a  source  of  pride  to  the  owners  and  to  the  makers, 
and  an  object  of  admiration  to  the  other  beholders.  A  new 
sailing  craft  is  not  only  another  utility  created  ;  it  is  more  : 
if  is  a  new  entity  sprung  into  being,  something  with  which 
the  future  destinies  of  the  sailors  will  be  bound  up,  and  on 
which  they  will  depend.  There  can  be  no  doubt  that  this 
sentiment  is  also  felt  by  the  natives  and  expressed  in  their 
customs  and  behaviour.  The  canoe  receives  a  personal  name, 
it  becomes  an  object  of  intense  interest  to  the  whole  district. 
Its  qualities,  points  of  beauty,  and  of  probable  perfection  or 
faultiness  are  canvassed  round  the  fires  at  night.  The  owner 
and  his  kinsmen  and  fellow  villagers  will  speak  of  it  with  the 
usual  boasting  and  exaggerations,  and  the  others  will  all  be 
very  keen  to  see  it,  and  to  watch  its  performances.  Thus  the 
institution  of  ceremonial  launching  is  not  a  mere  formality 
prescribed  by  custom  ;  it  corresponds  to  the  psychological 
needs  of  the  community,  it  rouses  a  great  interest,  and  is  very 
well  attended  even  when  the  canoe  belongs  to  a  small  com- 
munity. When  a  big  chief's  canoe  is  launched,  whether  that 
of  Kasanai  or  Omarakana,  Olivilevi  or  Sinaketa,  up  to  a 
thousand  natives  will  assemble  on  the  beach. 

This  festive  and  public  display  of  a  finished  canoe,  with  its 
full  paint  and  ornament,  is  not  only  in  harmony  with  the 
natives'  sentiments  towards  a  new  sailing  craft ;  it  also  agrees 
with  the  way  they  treat  in  general  the  results  of  their  economic 
activities.  Whether  in  gardening  or  in  fishing,  in  the  building 
of  houses  or  in  industrial  achievements,  there  is  a  tendency  to 
display  the  products,  to  arrange  them,  and  even  adorn  at 
least  certain  classes  of  them,  so  as  to  produce  a  big,  aesthetic 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     147 

effect.  In  fishing,  there  are  only  traces  of  this  tendency, 
but  in  gardening,  it  assumes  very  great  proportions,  and  the 
handling,  arranging  and  display  of  garden  produce  is  one  of 
the  most  characteristic  features  of  their  tribal  life,  and  it  takes 
up  much  time  and  work.* 

Soon  after  the  painting  and  adorning  of  the  canoe,  a  date 
is  fixed  for  the  ceremonial  launching  and  trial  run,  the  tasasoria 
festivities,  as  they  are  called.  Word  is  passed  to  the  chiefs 
and  headmen  of  the  neighbouring  villages.  Those  of  them 
who  own  canoes  and  who  belong  to  the  same  Kula  community 
have  always  to  come  with  their  canoes  and  take  part  in  a  sort 
of  regatta  held  on  the  occasion.  As  the  new  canoe  is  always 
constructed  in  connection  with  a  Kula  expedition,  and  as  the 
other  canoes  of  the  same  Kula  community  have  to  be  either 
done  up  or  replaced,  it  is  the  rule  that  on  the  tasasoria  day  a 
whole  fleet  of  brand  new  or  renovated  canoes  assemble  on  the 
beach,  all  resplendent  in  fresh  colours  and  decoration  of  cowrie 
shells  and  bleached  pandanus  streamers. 

The  launching  itself  is  inaugurated  with  a  rite  of .  the 
mwasila  (Kula  magic),  called  Kaytalula  wadola  waga  ("  staining 
red  of  the  mouth  of  the  canoe  ").  After  the  natives  have  taken 
off  the  plaited  coco-nut  leaves  with  which  the  canoe  is  pro- 
tected against  the  sun,  the  toli.waga  chants  a  spell  over  some  red 
ochre,  and  stains  both  bow  and  stern  of  the  canoe.  A  special 
cowrie  shell,  attached  to  the  prow-board  (tabuyo)  is  stained  at 
each  end.  After  that  the  canoe  is  launched,  the  villagers 
pushing  it  into  the  water  over  pieces  of  wood  transversely 
placed  which  act  as  slips  (see  Plate  XXX).  This  is  done 
amidst  shouts  and  ululations,  such  as  are  made  on  all  occasions 
when  some  piece  of  work  has  to  be  done  in  a  festive  and 
ceremonial  manner,  when,  for  instance,  the  harvest  is  brought 
in  and  given  ceremonially  by  a  man  to  his  brother-in-law,  or 
when  a  gift  of  yams  or  taro  is  laid  down  before  a  fisherman's 
house  by  an  inland  gardener,  or  the  return  gift  of  fish  is  made. 

Thus  the  canoe  is  finally  launched  after  the  long  series  of 
mingled  work  and  ceremony,  technical  effort  and  magical  rite. 

After  the  launching  is  done,  there  takes  place  a  feast,  or, 
more  correctly,  a  distribution  of  food  (sagali)  under  observation 
of  all  sorts  of  formalities  and  ritual.  Such  a  distribution 

*  Cf.  Chapter  II,  Divisions  III  and  IV,  and  some  of   the   following  Divi- 
sions of  this  Chapter. 


I48     TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

is  always  made  when  the  toliwaga  has  not  built  the  canoe  him- 
self, and  when  he  therefore  has  to  repay  the  cutter  of  the 
canoe  and  his  helpers.  It  also  takes  place  whenever  the  canoe 
of  a  big  chief  is  launched,  in  order  to  celebrate  the  occasion, 
to  show  oft  his  wealth  and  generosity,  and  to  give  food  to  the 
many  people  who  have  been  summoned  to  assist  in  the 
construction. 

After  the  sagali  (ceremonial  distribution  of  food)  is  over, 
as  a  rule,  in  the  afternoon,  the  new  canoe  is  rigged,  the  mast 
is  put  up,  the  sail  attached,  and  this  and  all  the  other  boats 
make  a  trial  run.  It  is  not  a  competitive  race  in  the  strict 
sense  of  the  word.  The  chief's  canoe,  which  indeed  would  as 
a  rule  be  best  and  fastest,  in  any  case  always  wins  the  race. 
If  it  did  not  sail  fastest,  the  others  would  probably  keep  back. 
The  trial  run  is  rather  a  display  of  the  new  canoe,  side  by  side 
with  the  others. 

In  order  to  give  one  concrete  illustration  of  the  ceremonial 
connected  with  canoe  building  and  launching,  it  may  be  well 
to  relate  an  actual  event.  I  shall  therefore  describe  the 
tasasoria,  seen  on  the  beach  of  Kaulukuba,  in  February,  1916, 
when  the  new  canoe  of  Kasana'i  was  launched.  Eight  canoes 
took  part  in  the  trial  run,  that  is,  all  the  canoes  of  Kiriwina, 
which  forms  what  I  have  called  the  "  Kula  community/'  the 
social  group  who  make  their  Kula  expeditions  in  a  body,  and 
who  have  the  same  limits  within  which  they  carry  on  their 
exchange  of  valuables. 

The  great  event  which  was  the  cause  of  the  building  and 
renovating  of  the  canoes,  was  a  Kula  expedition  planned  by 
To'ulawa  and  his  Kula  community.  They  were  to  go  to  the 
East,  to  Kitava,  to  Iwa  or  Gawa,  perhaps  even  to  Muruwa 
(Woodlark  Island),  though  with  this  island  the  natives  do  not 
carry  on  the  Kula  directly.  As  is  usual  in  such  cases,  months 
before  the  approximate  date  of  sailing,  plans  and  forecasts  were 
made,  stories  of  previous  voyages  were  recounted,  old  men  dwelt 
on  their  own  reminiscences  and  reported  what  they  had  been 
told  by  their  elders  of  the  days  when  iron  was  unknown  and 
everyone  had  to  sail  to  the  East  in  order  to  get  the  green 
stone  quarried  in  Suloga  on  Woodlark  Island.  And  so,  as  it 
always  happens  when  future  events  are  talked  over  round 
village  fires,  imagination  outran  all  bounds  of  probability  ; 
and  the  hopes  and  anticipations  grew  bigger  and  bigger.  In 


PLATE  XXX 


LAUNCHING  OF  A  CANOE 
Nigada  Bu'a,  after  its  renovation,  being  pushed  into  the  water.    (Sec  Div.  I.) 


PLATE  XXXI 


THE  TASASORIA  ON  THE  BEACH   OF   KAULUKUBA 

Stepping  the  masts  and  getting  the  sails  ready  for  the  run.     In  the  foreground  To'uluwa, 
the  chief  of  Kiriwina,  standing  at  the  mast,  supervises  the  rigging  of  Nigada  flu  a 


PLATE  XXXII 


A  CHIEF'S   YAM   HOUSE  IN  KASANA'l 

This  illustrates  the  display  of  yarns  in  the  interstices  between  the  logs  of  the  wall,  and  the 
decorations  of  cocoanuts,  running  round  the  gable,  along  the  supports  and  the  walls.  This 
yam  house  was  quite  recently  put  up  and  its  barge  boards  had  not  yet  been  erected.  (See 

Div.  IV.) 


PLATE  XXXIII 


A  FILLING   A  YAM   HOUSE   IN    YALUMUGWA 

The  yams  are  taken  from  the  conical  heaps  and  put  into  the  bwayma  (store  houses)  by  the 
brother-in-law  (wife's  brother)  of  the  owner.    Note  the  decorations  on  the  gable — the  owner 
being  a  gumguya'u  (chief  of  lower  rank).     (See  Div.  IV.) 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     149 

the  end,  everyone  really  believed  his  party  would  go  at  least  to 
the  Easternmost  Marshall  Bennetts  (Gawa),  whereas,  as  events 
turned  out,  they  did  not  sail  beyond  Kitava. 

For  this  occasion  a  new  canoe  had  to  be  constructed  in 
Kasana'i,  and  this  was  done  by  Ibena  himself,  the  chief  of  that 
village,  a  man  of  rank  equal  to  the  highest  chief  (his  kinsman, 
in  fact)  but  of  smaller  power.  Ibena  is  a  skilled  builder  as 
well  as  a  fair  carver,  and  there  is  no  class  of  magic  in  which 
he  does  not  profess  to  be  versed.  The  canoe  was  built,  under 
his  guidance  ;  he  carved  the  boards  himself,  he  also  performed 
the  magic,  and  he  was,  of  course,  the  toliwaga. 

In  Omarakana,  the  canoe  had  to  be  slightly  altered  in 
construction  ;  it  had  to  be  re-lashed  and  re-painted.  To  do 
this  IVuluwa,  the  chief,  had  summoned  a  master  builder  and 
carver  from  the  island  of  Kitava,  the  same  one  who  a  couple 
of  years  before,  had  built  this  canoe.  Also  a  new  sail  had  to 
be  made  for  the  Omarakana  boat,  as  the  old  one  was  too  small. 
The  ceremony  of  tasasoria  (launching  and  regatta)  ought  by 
rights  to  have  been  held  on  the  beach  of  Kasana'i,  but  as  its 
sister  village,  Omarakana,  is  so  much  more  important,  it  took 
place  on  KauJukuba,  the  sea-shore  of  the  latter. 

As  the  date  approached,  the  whole  district  was  alive  with 
preparations,  since  the  coastal  villages  had  to  put  their  canoes 
in  order,  while  in  the  inland  communities,  new  festive  dresses 
and  food  had  to  be  made  ready.  The  food  was  not  to  be  eaten, 
but  to  be  offered  to  the  chief  for  his  sagali  (ceremonial  distri- 
bution). Only  in  Omarakana,  the  women  had  to  cook  for  a 
big  festive  repast  to  be  eaten  on  return  from  the  tasasoria.  In 
the  Trobriands  it  is  always  a  sign  that  a  festive  event  is  pending 
when  all  the  women  go  in  the  evening  to  the  bush  to  collect 
plenty  of  firewood.  Next  morning,  this  will  be  used  for  the 
kumkumuli,  the  baking  of  food  in  the  ground,  which  is  one  of 
the  forms  of  cooking  used  on  festive  occasions.  On  the 
evening  of  the  tasasoria  ceremony,  people  in  Omarakana  and 
Kasana'i  were  also  busy  with  the  numerous  other  preparations, 
running  to  the  shore  and  back,  filling  baskets  with  yams  for 
the  sagali,  getting  ready  their  festive  dress  and  decorations 
for  the  morrow.  Festive  dress  means,  for  a  woman,  a  new 
grass  skirt,  resplendent  in  fresh  red,  white  and  purple,  and  for 
the  man  a  newly  bleached,  snow-white  pubic  leaf,  made  of  the 
stalk  of  areca  palm  leaf. 


150    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

Early  in  the  morning  of  the  appointed  day,  the  food  was 
packed  into  baskets  of  plaited  leaf,  the  personal  apparel  on  top 
of  it,  all  covered  as  usual  with  folded  mats  and  conveyed  to 
the  beach.  The  women  carried  on  their  heads  the  large 
baskets,  shaped  like  big  inverted  bells,  the  men  shouldered  a 
stick  with  two  bag-shaped  baskets  at  each  end.  Other  men  had 
to  carry  the  oars,  paddles,  rigging  and  sail,  as  these  para- 
phenalia  are  always  kept  in  the  village.  From  one  of  the 
villages,  one  of  the  large,  prismatic  receptacles  for  food  made 
of  sticks  was  carried  by  several  men  right  over  the  raybwag 
(coral  ridge)  to  be  offered  to  the  chief  of  Omarakana  as  a  share 
in  the  sagali.  The  whole  village  was  astir,  and  on  its  out- 
skirts, through  the  surrounding  groves,  parties  from  inland 
could  be  seen  making  their  way  rapidly  to  the  shore.  I  left 
the  village  with  a  party  of  notables  at  about  eight  o'clock  in 
the  morning.  After  leaving  the  grove  of  fruit  and  palm  trees 
which  grows  especially  densely  around^the  village  of  Omarakana, 
we  entered  between  the  two  walls  of  green,  the  usual  monoton- 
ous Trobriand  road,  which  passes  through  the  low  scrub.  Soon, 
emerging  on  a  garden  space,  we  could  see,  beyond  a  gentle 
declivity,  the  rising  slope  of  the  raybwag,  a  mixture  of  rank 
vegetation  with  monumental  boulders  of  grey  coral  standing 
out  here  and  there.  Through  this,  the  path  led  on,  following 
in  an  intricate  course  between  small  precipices  and  towering 
outcrops,  passing  huge,  ancient  ficus  trees,  spreading  around 
them  their  many  trunks  and  aerial  roots.  At  the  top  of  the 
ridge,  all  of  a  sudden  the  blue  sea  shone  through  the  foliage, 
and  the  roar  of  waves  breaking  on  the  reef  struck  our  ears. 
Soon  we  found  ourselves  among  the  crowd  assembled  on  the 
beach,  near  to  the  big  boat-shed  of  Omarakana. 

By  about  nine  o'clock,  everybody  was  ready  on  the  beach. 
It  was  fully  exposed  to  the  Eastern  sun,  but  this  was  not  yet 
sufficiently  high  to  drop  its  light  right  from  above,  and  thus  to 
produce  that  deadly  effect  of  tropical  mid-day,  where  the 
shadows  instead  of  modelling  out  the  details,  blur  every 
vertical  surface  and  make  everything  dull  and  formless.  The 
beach  appeared  bright  and  gaudy,  and  the  lively  brown  bodies 
looked  well  against  the  background  of  green  foliage  and  white 
sand.  The  natives  were  anointed  with  coco-nut  oil,  and 
decorated  with  flowers  and  facial  paint.  Large  red  hibiscus 
blossoms  were  stuck  into  their  hair,  and  wreaths  of  the  white, 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     151 

wonderfully  scented  butia  flowers  crowned  the  dense  black 
mops.  There  was  a  good  display  of  ebony  carvings,  sticks 
and  lime  spoons.  There  were  decorated  lime  pots,  and  such 
objects  of  personal  adornment  as  belts  of  red  shell  discs  or  of 
small  cowrie  shells,  nose  sticks  (very  rarely  used  nowadays), 
and  other  articles  so  well  known  to  everybody  from  ethnological 
collections  in  museums,  and  usually  called  "ceremonial/' 
though,  as  said  above  (Chapter  III,  Div.  Ill)  the  description 
"  objects  of  parade  "  would  be  much  more  in  agreement  with 
the  correct  meaning  of  the  words. 

Such  popular  festivities  as  the  one  just  being  described 
are  the  occasions  on  which  these  objects  of  parade,  some  of 
which  astonish  us  by  their  artistic  perfection,  appear  in  native 
life.  Before  I  had  opportunities  to  see  savage  art  in  actual 
display,  in  its  proper,  "  living  "  setting,  there  seemed  to  me 
always  to  exist  some  incongruity  between  the  artistic  finish 
of  such  objects  and  the  general  crudity  of  savage  life,  a  crudity 
marked  precisely  on  the  aesthetic  side.  One  imagines  greasy, 
dirty,  naked  bodies,  moppy  hair  full  of  vermin,  and  other 
realistic  features  which  make  up  one's  idea  of  the  "  savage/' 
and  in  some  respects  reality  bears  out  imagination.  As  a 
matter  of  fact  though,  the  incongruity  does  not  exist  when 
once  one  has  seen  native  art  actually  displayed  in  its  own 
setting-  A  festive  mob  of  natives,  with  the  wonderful  golden- 
brown  colour  of  their  skins  brought  out  by  washing  and 
anointing  and  set  off  by  the  gaudy  white,  red  and  black  of 
facial  paint,  feathers  and  ornaments,  with  their  exquisitely 
carved  and  polished  ebony  objects,  with  their  finely  worked 
lime  pots,  has  a  distinct  elegance  of  its  own,  without  striking 
one  as  grotesque  or  incongruous  in  any  aesthetic  detail.  There 
is  an  evident  harmony  between  their  festive  mood,  the  display 
of  colours  and  forms,  and  the  manner  in  which  they  put  on  and 
bear  their  ornaments. 

Those  who  have  come  from  a  distance,  and  who  would 
spoil  their  decorations  by  the  long  march,  wash  with  water 
and  anoint  themselves  with  coco-nut  grease  immediately  before 
arriving  at  the  scene  of  festivities.  As  a  rule  the  best  paint 
is  put  on  later  on,  when  the  climax  of  the  proceedings  approaches. 
On  this  occasion,  after  the  preliminaries  (distribution  of  food, 
arrival  of  other  canoes)  were  over,  and  when  the  races  were 
just  going  to  be  started,  the  aristocracy  of  Omarakana — the 


152    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

wives  and  children  of  To'uluwa,  his  relatives  and  himself — 
withdrew  behind  the  shelters,  near  the  boat  shed,  and  pro- 
ceeded to  put  on  the  red,  white  and  black  of  full  facial  paint. 
They  crushed  young  betel-nut,  mixed  it  with  lime,  and  put 
it  on  with  the  pestles  of  betel  mortars  ;  then  some  of  the 
aromatic  black  resin  (sayaku)  and  white  lime  were  applied. 
As  the  habit  of  mirrors  is  not  quite  well  established  yet  in  the 
Trobriands,  the  painting  was  done  by  one  person  on  the  face 
of  another,  and  great  care  and  patience  were  displayed  on 
both  sides. 

The  numerous  crowd  spent  the  day  without  taking  much 
refreshment — a  feature  strongly  differentiating  Kiriwinian 
festivities  from  our  ideal  of  an  entertainment  or  picnic.  No 
cooking  was  done,  and  only  a  few  bananas  were  eaten  here  and 
there,  and  green  coco-nuts  were  drunk  and  eaten.  But  even 
these  refreshments  were  consumed  with  great  frugality. 

As  always  on  such  occasions,  the  people  collected  together 
in  sets,  the  visitors  from  each  village  forming  a  group  apart. 
The  local  natives  kept  to  their  own  boat  houses,  those  of 
Omarakana  and  Kurokaiwa  having  their  natural  centres  on 
the  beach  of  Kaulukuba.  The  other  visitors  similarly  kept 
together  in  their  position  on  the  beach,  according  to  their  local 
distribution  ;  thus,  men  from  the  Northern  villages  would  keep 
to  the  Northern  section  of  the  beach,  those  from  the  South 
would  stick  to  that  point  of  the  compass,  so  that  villages  which 
were  neighbours  in  reality  would  also  be  side  by  side  on  the 
shore.  There  was  no  mingling  in  the  crowd,  and  individuals 
would  not  walk  about  from  one  group  to  another.  The 
aristocrats,  out  of  personal  dignity,  humble  folk  because  of  a 
modesty  imposed  by  custom,  would  keep  in  their  places. 
To'uluwa  sat  practically  during  the  whole  performance,  on  the 
platform  erected  for  this  purpose,  except  when  he  went  over  to 
his  boat,  to  trim  it  for  the  race. 

The  boat  shed  of  Omarakana,  round  which  the  chief,  his 
family  and  the  other  villagers  were  grouped,  was  the  centre 
of  all  the  proceedings.  Under  one  of  the  palms,  a  fairly  high 
platform  was  put  up  to  accommodate  To'uluwa.  In  a  row 
in  front  of  the  sheds  and  shelters,  there  stood  the  prismatic 
food  receptacles  (pwata'i).  They  had  been  erected  by  the 
inhabitants  of  Omarakana  and  Kasana'i,  on  the  previous  day, 
and  partially  filled  with  yams.  The  rest  had  to  be  supplied 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     153 

by  people  from  the  other  villages,  on  the  day  of  the  boat  races. 
As  the  natives  came  to  the  beach  on  that  day,  village  after 
village,  they  brought  their  contribution,  and  before  settling 
down  on  their  particular  spot  on  the  shore,  they  paid  a  visit 
to  the  chief  and  offered  him  their  tributes.  These  would  be 
put  into  one  of  the  pwata'i.  All  the  villages  did  not  contribute 
their  share,  but  the  majority  did,  though  some  of  them  brought 
only  a  few  baskets.  One  of  the  villages  brought  one 
complete  pwata'i,  filled  with  yams,  and  offered  the  whole 
to  the  chief. 

In  the  meantime,  the  eight  canoes  arrived,  including  that 
of  Kasana'i,  which  had  been  ceremonially  launched  that 
morning  with  the  accompanying  magical  rite,  on  its  own  beach 
about  half  a  mile  away.  The  canoe  of  Omarakana  had  also  been 
launched  on  this  morning  (Plate  XXX),  and  the  same  rite 
performed  over  it.  It  ought  to  have  been  done  by  To'uluwa, 
the  chief.  As  he,  however,  is  quite  incapable  of  remembering 
magical  spells — in  fact,  he  never  does  any  of  the  magic  which 
his  rank  and  office  impose  on  him — the  rite  was  performed  on 
this  occasion  by  one  of  his  kinsmen.  This  is  a  typical  case  of 
a  rule  very  stringently  formulated  by  all  informants  when  you 
ask  about  it,  yet  in  reality  often  observed  with  laxity.  If 
you  inquire  directly,  everyone  will  tell  you  that  this  rite,  as  all 
others  of  the  mwasila  (Kula  magic)  has  to  be  done  by  the 
ioliwaga.  But  every  time  when  he  ought  to  perform  it, 
To'uluwa  will  find  some  excuse,  and  delegate  it  to  another. 

When  all  the  canoes  were  present,  as  well  as  all  the 
important  villages,  at  about  eleven  o'clock  a.m.,  there  took 
place  the  sagali  (ceremonial  distribution).  The  food  was 
given  to  people  from  various  villages,  especially  such  as 
took  part  in  the  races,  or  had  assisted  in  the  building  of  the 
new  canoe.  So  we  see  that  food  contributed  by  all  the  villages 
before  the  sagali  was  simply  redistributed  among  them,  a 
considerable  quantity  having  been  added  first  by  the  chief ; 
and  this  indeed  is  the  usual  procedure  at  a  sagali.  In  this 
case,  of  course,  the  lion's  share  was  taken  by  the  Kitavans 
who  helped  at  the  building. 

After  the  sagali  was  over,  the  canoes  were  all  brought  up 
to  one  spot,  and  the  natives  began  to  prepare  them  for  the 
race.  The  masts  were  stepped,  the  fastenings  trimmed,  the 
sails  made  ready  (see  Plate  XXXI).  After  that  the  canoes 


154    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

all  put  off  and  gathered  about  half  a  mile  off  the  shore,  beyond 
the  fringing  reef  ;  and  at  a  sign  given  by  some  one  on  one  of 
them,  they  all  started.  As  said  before,  such  a  run  is  not  a 
race  properly  speaking,  in  which  the  canoes  would  start 
scrupulously  at  the  same  minute,  have  the  same  distance  to 
cover,  and  which  would  clearly  show  which  is  the  fastest.  In 
this  case,  it  was  merely,  as  always,  a  review  of  the  boats  sailing 
along  as  well  as  they  were  able,  a  review  in  which  they  all  began 
to  move,  more  or  less  at  the  same  time,  went  in  the  same 
direction,  and  covered  practically  the  same  distance. 

As  to  the  time  table  of  the  events,  the  sagali  was  over  before 
mid-day.  There  was  a  pause  ;  and  then,  at  about  one  p.m., 
the  natives  began  rigging  the  canoes.  Then  all  hands  had  a 
spell,  and  not  before  three  p.m.  were  the  races  started.  The 
whole  affair  was  over  by  about  four  o'clock,  and  half  an  hour 
later,  the  boats  from  the  other  villages  started  to  sail  home, 
the  people  on  the  shore  dispersed,  so  that  by  sunset,  that 
is,  about  six  o'clock,  the  beach  was  almost  deserted. 

Such  was  the  tasasoria  ceremony  which  I  saw  in  February, 
1916.  It  was  a  fine  sight  from  the  spectacular  point  of  view. 
A  superficial  onlooker  could  have  hardly  perceived  any  sign 
of  white  man's  influence  or  interference.  I  was  the  only 
white  man  present,  and  besides  myself  only  some  two  or  three 
native  missionary  teachers  were  dressed  in  white  cotton. 
Amongst  the  rest  of  us  there  could  be  seen  sparsely  a  coloured 
rag,  tied  round  as  a  neckerchief  or  head-dress.  But  otherwise 
there  was  only  a  swarm  of  naked  brown  bodies,  shining  with 
coco-nut  oil,  adorned  in  new  festive  dress,  with  here  and  there 
the  three-coloured  grass  skirt  of  a  woman  (see  Plates  XXX 
and  XXXI). 

But  alas,  for  one  who  could  look  below  the  surface  and  read 
the  various  symptoms  of  decay,  deep  changes  would  be 
discernible  from  what  must  have  been  the  original  conditions 
of  such  a  native  gathering.  In  fact,  some  three  generations 
ago,  even  its  appearances  would  have  been  different.  The 
natives  then  would  have  been  armed  with  shields  and  spears  ; 
some  would  have  borne  decorative  weapons,  such  as  the  big 
sword-clubs  of  hard  wood,  or  massive  ebony  cudgels,  or  small 
thro  wing-sticks.  A  closer  inspection  would  have  shown  many 
more  decorations  and  ornaments,  such  as  nose-sticks,  finely 
carved  lime  spatulae,  gourds  with  burnt-in  designs,  some  of 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS    155 

which  are  now  out  of  use,  or  those  used  of  inferior  workmanship 
or  without  decoration. 

But  other  and  much  deeper  changes  have  taken  place  in 
the  social  conditions.  Three  generations  ago  both  the  canoes 
in  the  water  and  the  people  on  the  shore  would  have  been  more 
numerous.  As  mentioned  above,  in  the  olden  days  there  would 
have  been  some  twenty  canoes  in  Kiriwina,  as  against  eight 
at  the  present  time.  Again,  the  far  stronger  influence  of 
the  chief,  and  the  much  greater  relative  importance  of  the 
event  would  have  attracted  a  larger  proportion  out  of  the 
then  more  numerous  population.  Nowadays,  other  interests, 
such  as  diving  for  pearls,  working  on  white  man's  plantations, 
divert  the  native  attention,  while  many  events  connected 
with  Missions,  Government  and  trading,  eclipse  the  importance 
of  old  customs. 

Again,  the  people  on  the  shore  would  have  had  to  adhere 
in  olden  days  even  more  closely  to  the  local  distribution,  men 
of  the  same  village  community  keeping  together  still  more 
strictly,  and  looking  with  mistrust  and  perhaps  even  hostility, 
at  other  groups,  especially  those  with  whom  they  had  hereditary 
feuds.  The  general  tension  would  often  be  broken  by  squabbles 
or  even  miniature  fights,  especially  at  the  moment  of  dispersing, 
and  on  the  way  home. 

One  of  the  important  features  of  the  performance,  and 
the  one  of  which  the  natives  think  perhaps  most — the  display 
of  food — would  also  have  been  quite  different.  The  chief 
whom  I  saw  sitting  on  a  platform  surrounded  by  a  few  wives 
only,  and  with  small  attendance  would,  under  the  old 
conditions,  have  been  the  owner  of  thrice  as  many  wives  and 
consequently  relatives-in-law,  and  as  it  is  these  from  whom  he 
derives  most  of  his  income,  he  would  have  provided  a  much 
bigger  sagali  than  he  is  able  to  do  nowadays. 

Three  generations  ago  the  whole  event  would  have  been 
much  more  solemn  and  dramatic  to  the  natives.  The  very 
distance  to  the  neighbouring  island  of  Kitava  is  nowadays 
dwarfed.  In  the  past,  it  would  not,  as  now,  be  quickly 
obliterated  by  a  white  man's  steam-launch.  Then,  the  canoes 
on  the  beach  were  the  only  means  of  arriving  there,  and  their 
value  in  the  eyes  of  the  natives  must  have,  therefore,  been 
even  higher,  although  they  think  so  much  of  them  now.  The 
outlines  of  the  distant  island  and  the  small  fleet  of  canoes  on 


156     TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

the  beach  formed  for  the  natives  the  first  act  of  a  big  over  seas 
expedition,  an  event  of  far  deeper  significance  to  them  then 
than  now.  A  rich  haul  of  arm-shells,  the  arrival  of  many 
much-coveted  utilities,  the  bringing  back  of  news  from  the 
far-off  land,  all  this  meant  much  more  in  older  days  than  it 
can  mean  at  present.  War,  dancing,  and  the  Kula  supplied 
tribal  life  with  its  romantic  and  heroic  elements.  Nowadays, 
with  war  prohibited  by  the  Government,  with  dancing  dis- 
credited by  missionary  influence,  the  Kula  alone  remains, 
and  even  that  is  stripped  of  some  of  its  glamour. 

II 

Before  we  proceed  to  the  next  stage,  we  must  pause  in 
following  the  events  of  a  Kula  expedition,  and  consider  one 
or  two  points  of  more  general  importance.  I  have  touched  in 
the  narrative,  but  not  dwelt  upon,  certain  problems  of  the 
sociology  of  work.  At  the  outset  of  the  preceding  chapter  it 
was  mentioned  that  canoe-building  requires  a  definite  organisa- 
tion of  work,  and  in  fact  we  saw  that  in  the  course  of 
construction,  various  kinds  of  labour  were  employed,  and  more 
especially  towards  the  end,  much  use  was  made  of  communal 
labour.  Again,  we  saw  that  during  the  launching  ceremony 
payment  was  given  by  the  owner  to  the  expert  and  his  helpers. 
These  two  points  therefore,  the  organisation  of  labour  and 
communal  labour  in  particular,  and  the  system  of  payment  for 
experts'  work  must  be  here  developed. 

Organisation  of  Labour. — First  of  all,  it  is  important  to 
realise  that  a  Kiriwinian  is  capable  of  working  well,  efficiently 
and  in  a  continuous  manner.  But  he  must  work  under  an 
effective  incentive  :  he  must  be  prompted  by  some  duty 
imposed  by  tribal  standards,  or  he  must  be  lured  by  ambitions 
and  values  also  dictated  by  custom  and  tradition.  Gain, 
such  as  is  often  the  stimulus  for  work  in  more  civilised  com- 
munities, never  acts  as  an  impulse  to  work  under  the  original 
native  conditions.  It  succeeds  very  badly,  therefore,  when  a 
white  man  tries  to  use  this  incentive  to  make  a  native  work. 

This  is  the  reason  why  the  traditional  view  of  the  lazy  and 
indolent  native  is  not  only  a  constant  refrain  of  the  average 
white  settler,  but  finds  its  way  into  good  books  of  travel,  and 
even  serious  ethnographic  records.  With  us,  labour  is,  or  was 
till  fairly  recently,  a  commodity  sold  as  any  other,  in  the 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     157 

open  market.  A  man  accustomed  to  think  in  terms  of  current 
economic  theory  will  naturally  apply  the  conceptions  of  supply 
and  demand  to  labour,  and  he  applies  them  therefore  to  native 
labour.  The  untrained  person  does  the  same,  though  in  less 
sophisticated  terms,  and  as  they  see  that  the  native  will  not 
work  well  for  the  white  man,  even  if  tempted  by  considerable 
payment  and  treated  fairly  well,  they  conclude  that  his 
capacity  for  labour  is  very  small.  This  error  is  due  to  the  same 
cause  which  lies  at  the  bottom  of  all  our  misconceptions  about 
people  of  different  cultures  If  you  remove  a  man  from  his 
social  milieu,  you  eo  ipso  deprive  him  of  almost  all  his  stimuli 
to  moral  steadfastness  and  economic  efficiency  and  even  of 
interest  in  life.  If  then  you  measure  him  by  moral,  legal  or 
economic  standards,  also  essentially  foreign  to  him,  you  cannot 
but  obtain  a  caricature  in  your  estimate. 

But  the  natives  are  not  only  capable  of  energetic,  continuous 
and  skilful  work  ;  their  social  conditions  also  make  it  possible 
for  them  to  employ  organised  labour.  At  the  beginning  of 
Chapter  IV,  the  sociology  of  canoe-building  was  given  in 
outline,  and  now,  after  the  details  of  its  successive  stages  have 
been  filled  in,  it  is  possible  to  confirm  what  has  been  said 
there,  and  draw  some  conclusions  as  to  this  organisation  of 
labour.  And  first,  as  we  are  using  this  expression  so  often, 
I  must  insist  again  on  the  fact  that  the  natives  are  capable 
of  it,  and  that  this  contention  is  not  a  truism,  as  the  following 
considerations  should  show.  The  just  mentioned  view  of 
the  lazy,  individualistic  and  selfish  savage,  who  lives  on  the 
bounties  of  nature  as  they  fall  ripe  and  ready  for  him,  implicitly 
precludes  the  possibility  of  his  doing  effective  work,  integrated 
into  an  organised  effort  by  social  forces.  Again,  the  view, 
almost  universally  accepted  by  specialists,  is  that  the  lowest 
savages  are  in  the  pre-economic  stage  of  individualistic  search 
for  food,  whereas  the  more  developed  ones,  such  as  the 
Trobrianders,  for  instance,  live  at  the  stage  of  isolated  house- 
hold economy.  This  view  also  ignores,  when  it  does  not  deny 
explicitly,  the  possibility  of  socially  organised  labour. 

The  view  generally  held  is  that,  in  native  communities 
each  individual  works  for  himself,  or  members  of  a  household 
work  so  as  to  provide  each  family  with  the  necessities  of  life. 
Of  course,  a  canoe,  even  a  masawa,  could  obviously  be  made 
by  the  members  of  a  household,  though  with  less  efficiency 


158     TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

and  in  a  longer  time.  So  that  there  is  a  priori  nothing  to 
foretell  whether  organised  labour,  or  the  unaided  efforts  of  an 
individual  or  a  small  group  of  people  should  be  used  in  the 
work.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  we  have  seen  in  canoe-building  a 
number  of  men  engaged  in  performing  each  a  definite  and 
difficult  task,  though  united  to  one  purpose.  The  tasks  were 
differentiated  in  their  sociological  setting ;  some  of  the^workers 
were  actually  to  own  the  canoe  ;  others  belonged  to  a  different 
community,  and  did  it  only  as  an  act  of  service  to  the  chief. 
Some  worked  in  order  to  derive  direct  benefit  from  the  use  of 
the  canoe,  others  were  to  be  paid.  We  saw  also  that  the  work 
of  felling,  of  scooping,  of  decorating,  would  in  some  cases  be 
performed  by  various  men,  or  it  might  be  performed  by  one 
only.  Certainly  the  minute  tasks  of  lashing,  caulking  and 
painting,  as  well  as  sail-making,  were  done  by  communal 
labour  as  opposed  to  individual.  And  all  these  different  tasks 
were  directed  towards  one  aim  :  the  providing  the  chief  or 
headman  with  the  title  of  ownership  of  a  canoe,  and  his  whole 
community  with  its  use. 

It  is  clear  that  this  differentiation  of  tasks,  co-ordinated 
to  a  general  purpose,  requires  a  well  developed  social 
apparatus  to  back  it  up,  and  that  on  the  other  hand,  this 
social  mechanism  must  be  associated  and  permeated  with 
economic  elements.  There  must  be  a  chief,  regarded  as 
representative  of  a  group  ;  he  must  have  certain  formal  rights 
and  privileges,  and  a  certain  amount  of  authority,  and  also 
he  must  dispose  of  part  of  the  wealth  of  the  community.  There 
must  also  be  a  man  or  men  with  knowledge  sufficient  to  direct 
and  co-ordinate  the  technical  operations.  All  this  is  obvious. 
But  it  must  be  clearly  set  forth  that  the  real  force  which  binds 
all  the  people  and  ties  them  down  in  their  tasks  is  obedience 
to  custom,  to  tradition. 

Every  man  knows  what  is  expected  from  him,  in  virtue  of 
his  position,  and  he  does  it,  whether  it  means  the  obtaining  of 
a  privilege,  the  performance  of  a  task,  or  the  acquiescence  in 
a  status  quo.  He  knows  that  it  always  has  been  thus,  and  thus 
it  is  all  around  him,  and  thus  it  always  must  remain.  The 
chief's  authority,  his  privileges,  the  customary  give  and  take 
which  exist  between  him  and  the  community,  all  that  is 
merely,  so  to  speak,  the  mechanism  through  which  the  force 
of  tradition  acts.  For  there  is  no  organised  physical  means 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     159 

by  which  those  in  authority  could  enforce  their  will  in  a  case 
like  this.  Order  is  kept  by  direct  force  of  everybody's 
adhesion  to  custom,  rules  and  laws,  by  the  same  psychological 
influences  which  in  our  society  prevent  a  man  of  the  world 
doing  something  which  is  not  "  the  right  thing,"  The 
expression  "  might  is  right  "  would  certainly  not  apply  to 
Trobriand  society.  "  Tradition  is  right,  and  what  is  right 
has  might  " — this  rather  is  the  rule  governing  the  social  forces 
in  Boyowa,  and  I  dare  say  in  almost  all  native  communities 
at  this  stage  of  culture. 

All  the  details  of  custom,  all  the  magical  formulae,  the 
whole  fringe  of  ceremonial  and  rite  which  accompany  canoe- 
building,  all  these  things  add  weight  to  the  social  scheme  of 
duties.  The  importance  of  magical  ideas  and  rites  as 
integrating  forces  has  been  indicated  at  the  outset  of  this 
description.  It  is  easy  to  see  how  all  the  appurtenances  of 
ceremony,  that  is,  magic,  decoration,  and  public  attendance 
welded  together  into  one  whole  with  labour,  serve  to  put  order 
and  organisation  into  it. 

Another  point  must  be  enlarged  upon  somewhat  more.  I 
have  spoken  of  organised  labour,  and  of  communal  labour. 
These  two  conceptions  are  not  synonymous,  and  it  is  well  to 
keep  them  apart.  As  already  defined,  organised  labour 
implies  the  co-operation  of  several  socially  and  economi- 
cally different  elements.  It  is  quite  another  thing,  however, 
when  a  number  of  people  are  engaged  side  by  side,  performing 
the  same  work,  without  any  technical  division  of  labour,  or 
social  differentiation  of  function.  Thus,  the  whole  enterprise 
of  canoe-building  is,  in  Kiriwina,  the  result  of  organised  labour. 
But  the  work  of  some  twenty  to  thirty  men,  who  side  by  side 
do  the  lashing  or  caulking  of  the  canoe,  is  communal  labour. 
This  latter  form  of  work  has  a  great  psychological  advantage. 
It  is  much  more  stimulating  and  more  interesting,  and  it 
allows  of  emulation,  and  therefore  of  a  better  quality  of  work. 
For  one  or  two  men,  it  would  require  about  a  month  to  do  the 
work  which  twenty  to  thirty  men  can  do  in  a  day.  In  certain 
cases,  as  in  the  pulling  of  the  heavy  log  from  the  jungle  to  the 
village,  the  joining  of  forces  is  almost  indispensable.  True, 
the  canoe  could  be  scooped  out  in  the  raybwag,  and  then  a 
few  men  might  be  able  to  pull  it  along,  applying  some  skill. 
But  it  would  entail  great  hardships.  Thus,  in  some  cases, 


160     TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

communal  labour  is  of  extreme  importance,  and  in  all  cases 
it  furthers  the  course  of  work  considerably.  Sociologically,  it 
is  important,  because  it  implies  mutual  help,  exchange  of 
services,  and  solidarity  in  work  within  a  wide  range . 

Communal  labour  is  an  important  factor  in  the  tribal 
economy  of  the  Trobriand  natives.  They  resort  to  it  in  the 
building  of  living-huts  and  storehouses,  in  certain  ^forms  of 
industrial  work,  and  in  the  transport  of  things,  especially  at 
harvest  time,  when  great  quantities  of  produce  have  to  be 
shifted  from  one  village  to  another,  often  over  a  great  distance. 
In  fishing,  when  several  canoes  go  out  together  and  fish  each 
for  itself,  then  we  cannot  speak  of  communal  labour.  When 
on  the  other  hand,  they  fish  in  one  band,  each  canoe  having 
an  appointed  task,  as  is  sometimes  done,  then  we  have  to  do 
with  organised  labour.  Communal  labour  is  also  based  upon 
the  duties  of  urigubu,  or  relatives-in-law.  That  is,  a  man's 
relatives-in-law  have  to  assist  him,  whenever  he  needs  their 
co-operation.  In  the  case  of  a  chief,  there  is  an  assistance  on 
a  grand  scale,  and  whole  villages  will  turn  out.  In  the  case 
of  a  commoner,  only  a  few  people  will  help.  There  is  always 
a  distribution  of  food  after  the  work  has  been  done,  but  this 
can  hardly  be  considered  as  payment,  for  is  is  not  proportional 
to  the  work  each  individual  does. 

By  far  the  most  important  part  communal  labour  has  to 
play,  is  in  gardening.  There  are  as  many  as  five  different 
forms  of  communal  labour  in  the  gardens,  each  called  by  a 
different  name,  and  each  distinct  in  its  sociological  nature. 
When  a  chief  or  headman  summons  the  members  of  a  village 
community,  and  they  agree  to  do  their  gardens  communally, 
it  is  called  tamgogula.  When  this  is  decided  upon,  and  the 
time  grows  near  for  cutting  the  scrub  for  new  gardens,  a  festive 
eating  is. held  on  the  central  place,  and  there  all  men  go,  and 
takayva  (cut  down)  the  scrub  on  the  chief's  plot.  After  that, 
they  cut  in  turn  the  garden  plots  of  everyone,  all  men  working 
on  the  one  plot  during  a  day,  and  getting  on  that  day  food 
from  the  owner.  This  procedure  is  reproduced  at  each 
successive  stage  of  gardening ;  at  the  fencing,  planting  of 
yams,  bringing  in  supports,  and  finally,  at  the  weeding,  which 
is  done  by  women.  At  certain  stages,  the  gardening  is  often 
done  by  each  one  working  for  himself,  namely  at  the  clearing  of 
the  gardens  after  they  are  burnt,  at  the  cleaning  of  the  roots 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     161 

of  yams  when  they  begin  to  produce  tubers,  and  at 
harvesting. 

There  are,  as  a  rule,  several  communal  feasts  during  the 
progress,  and  one  at  the  end  of  a  tamgogula  period.  Gardens 
are  generally  worked  in  this  fashion,  in  years  when  big 
ceremonial  dancing  or  some  other  tribal  festivity  is  held.  This 
usually  makes  the  work  very  late,  and  it  has  then  to  be  done 
quickly  and  energetically,  and  communal  labour  has  evidently 
been  found  suitable  for  this  purpose. 

When  several  villages  agree  to  work  their  gardens  by 
communal  labour,  this  is  called  lubalabisa.  The  two  forms  do 
not  differ  very  much  except  by  name,  and  also  by  the  fact 
that,  in  the  latter  form,  more  than  one  chief  or  headman  has 
to  direct  the  process.  The  lubalabisa  would  only  be  held  when 
there  are  several  small  villages,  clustered  together,  as  is  the 
case  in  the  village  compounds  of  Sinaketa,  Kavataria,  Kabwaku 
or  Yalaka. 

When  a  chief  or  headman,  or  man  of  wealth  and  influence 
summons  his  dependents  or  his  relatives-in-law  to  work  for 
him,  the  name  kabutu  is  given  to  the  proceedings.  The  owner 
has  to  give  food  to  all  those  co-operating.  A  kabutu  may  be 
instituted  for  one  bit  of  gardening,  for  example,  a  headman 
may  invite  his  villagers  to  do  his  cutting  for  him,  or  his  planting 
or  his  fencing.  It  is  clear  that  whenever  communal  labour 
is  required  by  one  man  in  the  construction  of  his  house  or  yam 
store,  the  labour  is  of  the  kabutu  type,  and  it  is  thus  called  by 
the  natives. 

The  fourth  form  of  communal  labour  is  called  ta'ula,  and 
takes  place  whenever  a  number  of  villagers  agree  to  do  one 
stage  of  gardening  in  common,  on  the  basis  of  reciprocity. 
No  great  or  special  payments  take  place.  The  same  sort  of 
communal  labour  extending  over  all  stages  of  gardening,  is 
called  kari'ula,  and  it  may  be  counted  as  the  fifth  form  of 
communal  labour  in  the  gardens.  Finally,  a  special  word, 
tavile'i,  is  used  when  they  wish  to  say  that  the  gardens  are 
done  by  individual  labour,  and  that  everyone  works  on  his 
own  plot.  It  is  a  rule,  however,  that  the  chief's  plots, 
especially  those  of  an  influential  chief  of  high  rank,  are  always 
gardened  by  communal  labour,  and  this  latter  is  also  used  with 
regard  to  certain  privileged  plots,  on  which,  in  a  given  year,  the 
garden  magic  is  performed  first,  and  with  the  greatest  display* 


r62    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

Thus  there  is  a  number  of  distinct  forms  of  communal 
labour,  and  they  show  many  more  interesting  features  which 
cannot  be  mentioned  in  this  short  outline.  The  communal 
labour  used  in  canoe-building  is  obviously  of  the  kabutu  type. 
In  having  a  canoe  made,  the  chief  is  able  to  summon  big 
numbers  of  the  inhabitants  of  a  whole  district,  the  headman  of 
an  important  village  receives  the  assistance  of  his  whole  com- 
munity, whereas  a  man  of  small  importance,  such  as  one  of  the 
smaller  headmen  of  Sinaketa  or  Vakuta,  would  have  to  rely  on 
his  fellow  villagers  and  relations-in-law.  In  all  these  cases, 
it  would  be  the  call  of  duty,  laid  down  by  custom,  which  would 
make  them  work.  The  payment  would  be  of  secondary 
importance,  though  in  certain  circumstances,  it  would  be  a 
considerable  one.  The  distribution  of  food  during  launching 
forms  such  a  payment,  as  we  have  seen  in  Division  I  of  this 
chapter.  In  olden  days,  a  meal  of  pigs,  an  abundance  of 
betel-nut  and  coco-nut  and  sugar  cane  would  have  made  a 
veritable  feast  for  the  natives. 

Another  point  of  importance  from  the  economic  aspect  is 
the  payment  given  by  the  chief  to  the  builder  of  the  canoe. 
The  canoe  of  Omarakana  was  made,  as  we  saw,  for  To'uluwa 
by  a  specialist  from  Kitava,  who  was  well  paid  with  a  quantity 
of  food,  pigs  and  vaygua  (native  valuables).  Nowadays,  when 
the  power  of  the  chiefs  is  broken,  when  they  have  much  less 
wealth  than  formerly  to  back  up  their  position,  and  cannot 
use  even  the  little  force  they  ever  did  and  when  the  general 
breaking  up  of  custom  has  undermined  the  traditional  defer- 
ence and  loyalty  of  their  subjects,  the  production  of  canoes  and 
other  forms  of  wealth  by  the  specialist  for  the  chief  is  only  a 
vestige  of  what  it  once  was.  In  olden  days  it  was,  economi- 
cally, one  of  the  most  important  features  of  the  Trobriand 
tribal  life.  In  the  construction  of  the  canoe,  which  a  chief  in 
olden  days  would  never  build  himself,  we  meet  with  an  example 
of  this. 

Here  it  will  be  enough  to  say  that  whenever  a  canoe  is  built 
for  a  chief  or  headman  by  a  builder,  this  has  to  be  paid  for 
by  an  initial  gift  of  food.  Then,  as  long  as  the  man  is  at  work, 
provisional  gifts  of  food  are  given  him.  If  he  lives  away  from 
home,  like  the  Kitavan  builder  on  the  beach  of  Omarakana, 
he  is  fed  by  the  toliwaga  and  supplied  with  dainties  such  as 
coco-nut,  betel-nut,  pigs'  flesh,  fish  and  fruits.  When  he  works 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     163 

in  his  own  home,  the  toliwaga  will  bring  him  choice  food  at 
frequent  intervals,  inspecting,  as  he  does  so,  the  progress  of 
the  work.  This  feeding  of  the  worker  or  bringing  him  extra 
choice  food  is  called  vakapula.  After  the  canoe  is  finished,  a 
substantial  gift  is  given  to  the  master-builder  during  the 
ceremonial  distribution  of  food.  The  proper  amount  would  be 
a  few  hundred  basketfuls  of  yams,  a  pig  or  two,  bunches  of 
betel-nut,  and  a  great  number  of  coco-nuts ;  also,  a  large  stone 
blade  or  a  pig,  or  a  belt  of  red  shell  discs,  and  some  smaller 
vaygua  of  the  non-Kula  type. 

In  Vakuta,  where  chieftainship  is  not  very  distinct,  and  the 
difference  in  wealth  less  great,  a  toliwaga  also  has  to  feed  the 
workers  during  the  time  of  hollowing  out,  preparing,  and 
building  a  canoe.  Then,  after  the  caulking,  some  fifty  baskets- 
ful  are  given  to  the  builder.  After  the  launching  and  trial 
run,  this  builder  gives  a  rope,  symbol  of  the  canoe,  to  his  wife, 
who,  blowing  the  conch  shell,  presents  the  rope  to  the  toliwaga. 
He,  on  the  spot,  gives  her  a  bunch  of  betel  or  bananas.  Next 
day,  a  considerable  present  of  food,  known  as  yomelu,  is  given 
by  the  chief,  and  then  at  the  next  harvest,  another  fifty  or 
sixty  basketfuls  of  yams  as  karibudaboda  or  closing  up  gift. 

I  have  chosen  the  data  from  two  concrete  cases,  one  noted 
in  Kiriwina,  the  other  in  Vakuta — that  is,  in  the  district  where 
the  chief's  power  is  greatest,  and  in  that  where  there  never 
has  been  more  than  a  rudimentary  distance  in  rank  and  wealth 
between  chief  and  commoner.  In  both  cases  there  is  a  pay- 
ment, but  in  Kiriwina  the  payment  is  greater.  In  Vakuta, 
it  is  obviously  rather  an  exchange  of  services,  whereas  in 
Kiriwina  the  chief  maintains,  as  well  as  rewards  his  builder. 
In  both  cases  we  have  the  exchange  of  skilled  services  against 
maintenance  by  supply  of  food. 

Ill 

We  shall  pass  now  to  the  next  ceremonial  and  customary 
performance  in  the  succession  of  Kula  events,  to  the  display 
of  a  new  canoe  to  the  friends  and  relatives  of  the  toliwaga. 
This  custom  is  called  kabigidoya.  The  tasasoria  (launching 
and  trial  run)  is  obviously  at  the  same  time  the  last  act  of  ship- 
building, and  by  its  associated  magical  rite,  by  the  foretaste  of 
sailing,  it  is  also  one  of  the  beginning  stages  of  the  Kula. 
The  kabigidoya  being  a  presentation  of  the  new  canoe,  belongs 


164    TRT  3AL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

to  the  series  of  building  ceremonials  ;    but  in  so  far  as  it  is  a 
provisioning  trip,  it  belongs  to  the  Kula. 

The  canoe  is  manned  with  the  usual  crew,  it  is  rigged  and 
fitted  out  with  all  its  paraphernalia,  such  as  paddles,  baler,  and 
conch  shell,  and  it  sets  out  on  a  short  trip  to  the  beaches  of  the 
neighbouring  villages.  When  the  canoe  belongs  to  a  compound 
settlement  like  Sinaketa,  then  it  will  stop  at  every  bea^ch  of  the 
sister  villages.  The  conch  shell  is  blown,  and  people  in  the 
village  will  know  "  The  kabigidoya  men  have  arrived."  The 
crew  remains  in  the  canoe,  the  tohwaga  goes  ashore,  taking  one 
paddle  with  him.  He  goes  to  the  house  of  his  fellow-headman, 
and  thrusts  the  paddle  into  the  frame  of  the  house,  with  the 
words  :  "I  offer  thee  thy  bisila  (pandanus  streamer)  ;  take  a 
vaygua  (valuable),  catch  a  pig  and  break  the  head  of  my  new 
canoe."  To  which  the  local  headman  will  answer — giving  a 
present :  "  This  is  the  katuvisala  dabala  (the  breaking  of  the 
head)  of  thy  new  canoe  !  "  This  is  an  example  of  the  quaint, 
customary  wording  used  in  the  exchange  of  gifts,  and  in  other 
ceremonial  transactions.  The  bisila  (pandanus  streamer)  is 
often  used  as  a  symbol  for  the  canoe,  in  magical  spells,  in 
customary  expressions,  and  in  idiomatic  terms  of  speech. 
Bleached  pandanus  streamers  are  tied  to  the  mast,  rigging 
and  sail ;  a  specially  medicated  strip  is  often  attached  to  the 
prow  of  the  canoe  to  give  it  speed,  and  there  is  also  other 
bisila  magic  to  make  a  district  partner  inclined  for  Kula. 

The  gifts  given  are  not  always  up  to  the  standard  of  those 
mentioned  in  the  above  customary  phrase.  The  kabigidoya, 
especially  from  the  neighbouring  villages,  often  brings  only  a 
few  mats,  a  few  dozen  coco-nuts,  some  betel-nut,  a  couple  of 
paddles,  and  such  articles  of  minor  value.  And  even  in  these 
trifles  there  is  not  much  gain  from  the  short  kabigidoya.  For  as 
we  know,  at  the  beginning  of  the  Kula  all  the  canoe^of,  say, 
Sinaketa  or  KiriwJna  are  either  rebuilt  or  renewed.  What 
therefore  one  canoe  receives  on  its  kabigidoya  round,  from  all 
the  others,  will  have  to  be  more  or  less  returned  to  them,  when 
they  in  their  turn  kabigidoya  one  after  the  other.  Soon 
afterwards,  however,  on  an  appointed  day,  all  the  canoes  sail 
together  on  a  visit  to  the  other  districts,  and  on  this  kabigi- 
doya, they  receive  as  a  rule  much  more  substantial  presents, 
and  these  they  will  only  have  to  return  much  later,  after  a  year  or 
two,  when  the  visited  district  will  come  back  to  them  on  their 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     165 

own  kabigidoya.  Thus,  when  the  canoes  of  Kirwina  are  built 
and  renovated  for  a  big  Kula  expedition,  they  will  sail  South 
along  the  coast,  and  stop  first  in  Olivilevi,  receiving  presents 
from  the  chief  there,  and  walking  on  a  round  of  the  inland 
villages  of  Luba.  Then  they  will  proceed  to  the^next  sea 
village,  that  of  Wawela,  leaving  their  canoes  there,  and  going 
from  there  across  to  Sinaketa.  Thence  they  proceed  still 
further  South,  to  Vakuta.  The  villages  on  the  Lagoon,  such  as 
Sinaketa  and  Vakuta,  will  return  these  visits,  sailing  North 
along  the  Western  shore  on  the  Lagoon  side.  Then  they  stop  at 
Tukwaukwa  or  Kavataria,  and  from  there  walk  inland  to 
Kiriwina,  where  they  receive  presents  (see  Map  IV,  p.  50). 

The  kabigidoya  trips  of  the  Vakutans  and  Sinaketans  are 
more  important  than  those  of  the  Northern  or  Eastern  districts, 
because  they  are  combined  with  a  preliminary  trade,  in  which 
the  visitors  replenish  their  stock  of  goods,  which  they  will 
need  presently  on  their  trip  South  to  Dobu.  The  reader  will 
remember  that  Kuboma  is  the  industrial  district  of  the 
Trobriands,  where  are  manufactured  most  of  the  useful 
articles,  for  which  these  islands  are  renowned  in  the  whole  of 
Eastern  New  Guinea.  It  lies  in  the  Northern  half  of  the 
island,  and  from  Kiriwina  it  is  only  a  few  miles  walk,  but  to 
reach  it  from  Sinaketa  or  Vakuta  it  is  necessary  to  sail  North. 
The  Southern  villages  therefore  go  to  Kavataria,  and  from  there 
walk  inland  to  Bwoytalu,  Luya,  Yalaka  and  Kadukwaykela, 
where  they  make  their  purchases.  The  inhabitants  of  these 
villages  also  when  they  hear  that  the  Sinaketans  are  anchored 
in  Kavataria,  bring  their  wares  to  the  canoes. 

A  brisk  trade  is  carried  on  during  the  day  or  two  that  the 
Sinaketans  remain  in  Kavataria.  The  natives  of  Kuboma 
are  always  eager  to  buy  yams,  as  they  live  in  an  unfertile 
district,  and  devote  themselves  more  to  industrial  productions 
than  to  gardening.  And  they  are  still  more  eager  to  acquire 
coco-nuts  and  betel-nut,  of  which  they  have  a  great  scarcity. 
They  desire  besides  to  receive  in  exchange  for  their  produce 
the  red  shell  discs  manufactured  in  Sinaketa  and  Vakuta,  and 
the  turtle-shell  rings.  For  objects  of  great  value,  the  Sinake- 
tans would  give  the  big  clay  pots  which  they  receive  directly 
from  the  Amphletts.  For  that  they  obtain  different  articles 
according  to  the  villages  with  which  they  are  exchanging. 
From  Bwoytalu,  they  get  the  wonderfully  fashioned  and 


166    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

decorated  wooden  dishes  of  various  sizes,  depths  and  finish, 
made  out  of  either  hard  or  soft  wood ;  from  Bwaytelu, 
Wabutuma  and  Buduwaylaka,  armlets  of  plaited  fern  fibre, 
and  wooden  combs  ;  from  Buduwaylaka,  Yalaka,  and  Kaduk- 
waykela,  lime  pots  of  different  qualities  and  sizes.  From  the 
villages  of  Tilataula,  the  district  North-east  of  Kuboma,  the 
polished  axe  blades  used  to  be  acquired  in  olden  days.. 

I  shall  not  enter  into  the  technicalities  of  this  exchange,  nor 
shall  I  give  here  the  approximate  list  of  prices  which  obtain. 
We  shall  have  to  follow  the  traded  goods  further  on  to  Dobu, 
and  there  we  shall  see  how  they  change  hands  again,  and  under 
what  conditions.  This  will  allow  us  to  compare  the  prices 
and  thus  to  gauge  the  nature  of  the  transaction  as  a  whole. 
It  will  be  better  therefore  to  defer  all  details  till  then. 

IV 

Here,  however,  its  seems  necessary  to  make  another 
digression  from  the  straight  narrative  of  the  Kula,  and  give 
an  outline  of  the  various  forms  of  trade  and  exchange  as  we 
find  them  in  the  Trobriands.  Indeed,  the  main  theme  of  this 
volume  is  the  Kula,  a  form  of  exchange,  and  I  would  be  untrue 
to  my  chief  principle  of  method,  were  I  to  give  the  description 
of  one  form  of  exchange  torn  out  of  its  most  intimate  context  ; 
that  is,  were  I  to  give  an  account  of  the  Kula  without  giving  at 
least  a  general  outline  of  the  forms  of  Kiriwinian  payments 
and  gifts  and  barter. 

In  Chapter  II,  speaking  of  some  features  of  Trobriand 
tribal  life,  I  was  led  to  criticise  the  current  views  of  primitive 
economic  man.  They  depict  him  as  a  being  indolent,  inde- 
pendent, happy-go-lucky,  yet  at  the  same  time  governed 
exclusively  by  strictly  rational  and  utilitarian  motives,  and 
logical  and  consistent  in  his  behaviour.  In  this  chapter  again, 
in  Division  II,  I  pointed  out  another  fallacy  implied  in  this 
conception,  a  fallacy  which  declares  that  a  savage  is  capable 
only  of  very  simple,  unorganised  and  unsystematic  forms  of 
labour.  Another  error  more  or  less  explicitly  expressed  in  all 
writings  on  primitive  economics,  is  that  the  natives  possess 
only  rudimentary  forms  of  trade  and  exchange  ;  that  these 
forms  play  no  essential  part  in  the  tribal  life,  are  carried  on 
only  spasmodically  and  at  rare  intervals,  and  as  necessity 
dictates. 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     167 

Whether  we  have  to  deal  with  the  wide-spread  fallacy  of 
the  primitive  Golden  Age,  characterised  mainly  by  the  absence 
of  any  distinction  between  mine  and  thine  ;  or  whether  we  take 
the  more  sophisticated  view,  which  postulates  stages  of 
individual  search  for  food,  and  of  isolated  household  catering  ; 
or  if  we  consider  for  the  moment  the  numerous  theories  which 
see  nothing  in  primitive  economics  but  simple  pursuits  for  the 
maintenance  of  existence — in  none  of  these  can  we  find  reflected 
even  a  hint  of  the  real  state  of  affairs  as  found  in  the  Trobriands  ; 
namely,  that  the  whole  tribal  life  is  permeated  by  a  constant 
give  and  take  ;  that  every  ceremony,  every  legal  and  customary 
act  is  done  to  the  accompaniment  of  material  gift  and  counter 
gift ;  that  wealth,  given  and  taken,  is  one  of  the  main  instru- 
ments of  social  organisation,  of  the  power  of  the  chief,  of  the 
bonds  of  kinship,  and  of  relationship  in  law.* 

These  views  on  primitive  trade,  prevalent  though  erroneous, 
appear  no  doubt  quite  consistent,  that  is,  if  we  grant  certain 
premises.  Now  these  premises  seem  plausible,  and  yet  they 
are  false,  and  it  will  be  good  to  have  a  careful  look  at  them  so 
that  we  can  discard  them  once  and  for  all.  They  are  based  on 
some  sort  of  reasoning,  such  as  the  following  one  :  If,  in 
tropical  conditions,  there  is  a  plenty  of  all  utilities,  why 
trouble  about  exchanging  them  ?  Then,  why  attach  any  value 
to  them  ?  Is  there  any  reason  for  striving  after  wealth,  where 
everyone  can  have  as  much  as  he  wants  without  much  effort  ? 
Is  there  indeed  any  room  for  value,  if  this  latter  is  the  result  of 

*  I  am  adducing  these  views  not  for  any  controversial  purposes,  but  to 
justify  and  make  clear  why  I  stress  certain  general  features  of  Trobriand 
Economic  Sociology.  My  contentions  might  run  the  danger  of  appearing  as 
gratuitous  truisms  if  not  thus  justified.  The  opinion  that  primitive  humanity 
and  savages  have  no  individual  property  is  an  old  prejudice  shared  by  many 
modern  writers,  especially  in  support  of  communistic  theories,  and  the  so- 
called  materialistic  view  of  history.  The  "  communism  of  savages"  is  a  phrase 
very  often  read,  and  needs  no  special  quotation.  The  views  of  individual 
search  for  food  and  household  economy  are  those  of  Karl  Biicher,  and  ithey 
have  directly  influenced  all  the  best  modern  writings  on  Primitive  Economics. 
Finally,  the  view  that  we  have  done  with  Primitive  Economics  if  we  have  described 
the  way  in  which  the  natives  procure  their  food,  is  obviously  a  fundamental 
premise  of  all  the  naive,  evolutionary  theories  which  construct  the  successive 
stages  of  economic  development.  This  view  is  summarised  in  the  following 
sentence  :  "  .  .  .  .  In  many  simple  communities,  the  actual  food  quest, 
and  operations  immediately  arising  from  it,  occupy  by  far  the  greater  part 
of  the  people's  time  and  energy,  leaving  little  opportunity  for  the  satisfaction 
of  any  lesser  needs."  This  sentence,  quoted  out  of  "  Notes  and  Queries  on 
Anthropology,"  p.  160,  article  on  the  "  Economics  of  the  Social  Group," 
represents  what  may  be  called  the  official  view  of  contemporary  Ethnology 
on  the  subject,  and  in  perusing  the  rest  of  the  article,  it  can  be  easily  seen 
that  all  the  manifold  economic  problems,  with  which  we  are  dealing  in  this 
book,  have  been  so  far  more  or  less  neglected. 


168    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

scarcity  as  well  as  utility,  in  a  community,  in  which  all  the 
useful  things  are  plentiful  ?  On  the  other  hand,  in  those  savage 
communities  where  the  necessities  of  life  are  scarce,  there  is 
obviously  no  possibility  of  accumulating  them,  and  thus 
creating  wealth. 

Again,  since,  in  savage  communities,  whether  bountifully 
or  badly  provided  for  by  nature,  everyone  has  the  same  free 
access  to  all  the  necessities,  is  there  any  need  to  exchange  them  ? 
Why  give  a  basketful  of  fruit  or  vegetables,  if  everybody  has 
practically  the  same  quantity  and  the  same  means  of  pro- 
curing it  ?  Why  make  a  present  of  it,  if  it  cannot  be  returned 
except  in  the  same  form  ?* 

There  are  two  main  sources  of  error  at  the  bottom  of  this 
faulty  reasoning.  The  first  is  that  the  relation  of  the  savage 
to  material  goods  is  a  purely  rational  one,  and  that  conse- 
quently, in  his  conditions,  there  is  no  room  for  wealth  or  value. 
The  second  erroneous  assumption  is  that  there  can  be  no  need 
for  exchange  if  anyone  and  everyone  can,  by  industry  and 
skill,  produce  all  that  represents  value  through  its  quantity  or 
its  quality. 

As  regards  the  first  proposition,  it  is  not  true  either  with 
regard  to  what  may  be  called  primary  wealth,  that  is,  food 
stuffs,  nor  with  regard  to  articles  of  luxury,  which  are  by  no 
means  absent  in  Trobriand  society.  First  as  to  food-stuffs, 
they  are  not  merely  regarded  by  the  natives  as  nourishment, 
not  merely  valued  because  of  their  utility.  They  accumulate 
them  not  so  much  because  they  know  that  yams  can  be  stored 
and  used  for  a  future  date,  but  also  because  they  like  to  display 
their  possessions  in  food.  Their  yam  houses  are  built  so  that  the 
quantity  of  the  food  can  be  gauged,  and  its  quality  ascertained 
through  the  wide  interstices  between  the  beams  (see  Plates 
XXXII  and  XXXIII).  The  yams  are  so  arranged  that  the 
best  specimens  come  to  the  outside  and  are  well  visible.  Special 

*  These  views  had  to  be  adduced  at  length,  although  touched  upon 
already  in  Chapter  II,  Division  IV,  because  they  imply  a  serious  error  with 
regard  to  human  nature  in  one  of  its  most  fundamental  aspects.  We  can  show 
up  their  fallacy  on  one  example  only,  that  of  the  Trobriand  Society,  but  even 
this  is  enough  to  shatter  their  universal  validity  and  show  that  the  problem 
must  be  re-stated.  The  criticised  views  contain  very  general  propositions, 
which,  however,  can  be  answered  only  empirically.  And  it  is  the  duty  of  the 
field  Ethnographer  to  answer  and  correct  them.  Because  a  statement  is  very 
general,  it  can  none  the  less  be  a  statement  of  empirical  fact.  General  views 
must  not  be  mixed  up  with  hypothetical  ones.  The  latter  must  be  banished 
from  field  work  ;  the  former  cannot  receive  too  much  attention. 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     169 

varieties  of  yams,  which  grow  up  to  two  metres  length,  and 
weigh  as  much  as  several  kilograms  each,  are  framed  in  wood 
and  decorated  with  paint,  and  hung  on  the  outside  of  the  yam 
houses.  That  the  right  to  display  food  is  highly  valued  can 
be  seen  from  the  fact  that  in  villages  where  a  chief  of  high  rank 
resides,  the  commoners'  storehouses  have  to  be  closed  up  with 
coco-nut  leaves,  so  as  not  to  compete  with  his. 

All  this  shows  that  the  accumulation  of  food  is  not  only  the 
result  of  economic  foresight,  but  also  prompted  by  the  desire 
of  display  and  enhancement  of  social  prestige  through  posses- 
sion of  wealth. 

When  I  speak  about  ideas  underlying  accumulation  of 
food  stuffs  in  the  Trobriands,  I  refer  to  the  present,  actual 
psychology  of  the  natives,  and  I  must  emphatically  declare 
that  I  am  not  offering  here  any  conjectures  about  the  "  origins  " 
or  about  the  "  history  "  of  the  customs  and  their  psychology, 
leaving  this  to  theoretical  and  comparative  research. 

Another  institution  which  illuminates  the  native  ideas 
about  food  storage  is  the  magic  called  vilamalya,  performed 
over  the  crops  after  harvest,  and  at  one  or  two  other  stages. 
This  magic  is  intended  to  make  the  food  last  long.  Before 
the  store-house  is  filled  with  yams,  the  magician  places  a 
special  kind  of  heavy  stone  on  the  floor,  and  recites  a  long 
magical  spell.  On  the  evening  of  the  same  day,  after  the  food 
houses  have  been  filled,  he  spits  over  them  with  medicated 
ginger  root,  and  he  also  performs  a  rite  over  all  the  roads 
entering  into  the  village,  and  over  the  central  place.  All  this 
will  make  food  plentiful  in  that  village,  and  will  make  the 
supplies  last  long.  But,  and  this  is  the  important  point  for 
us,  this  magic  is  conceived  to  act,  not  on  the  food,  but  on  the 
inhabitants  of  the  village.  It  makes  their  appetites  poor, 
it  makes  them,  as  the  natives  put  it,  inclined  to  eat  wild  fruit 
of  the  bush,  the  mango  and  bread  fruit  of  the  village  grove,  and 
refuse  to  eat  yams,  or  at  least  be  satisfied  with  very  little. 
They  will  boast  that  when  this  magic  is  performed  well,  half  of 
the  yams  will  rot  away  in  the  storehouses,  and  be  thrown  on 
the  wawat  the  rubbish  heap  at  the  back  of  the  houses,  to  make 
room  for  the  new  harvest.  Here  again  we  meet  the  typical 
idea  that  the  main  aim  of  accumulating  food  is  to  keep  it 
exhibited  in  the  yam  houses  till  it  rots,  and  then  can  be 
replaced  by  a  new  etalage. 


170    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

The  filling  of  the  storehouses  involves  a  double  display  of 
food,  and  a  good  deal  of  ceremonial  handling.  When  the  tubers 
are  taken  out  of  the  ground  they  are  first  displayed  in  the 
gardens.  A  shed  of  poles  is  erected,  and  covered  with  taitu 
vine,  which  is  thrown  thickly  over  it.  In  such  arbours,  a 
circle  is  pegged  out  on  the  ground,  and  within  this  the  taitu 
(the  ordinary  small  yams  of  the  Trobriands  which  -form  the 
staple  harvest)  are  carefully  piled  up  into  a  conical  heap.  A 
great  deal  of  care  is  lavished  on  this  task,  the  biggest  are 
selected,  scrupulously  cleaned,  and  put  on  the  outside  of  the 
heap.  After  a  fortnight  or  more  of  keeping  the  yams  in  the 
garden,  where  they  are  much  admired  by  visiting  parties,  the 
owner  of  the  garden  plot  summons  a  party  of  friends  or 
relatives-in-law,  and  these  transport  them  into  a  village.  As 
we  know  already,  from  Chapter  II,  such  yams  will  be  offered 
to  the  owner's  sister's  tyusband.  It  is  to  his  village  that  they 
are  brought,  where  again  they  are  displayed  in  conical  heaps, 
placed  before  his  yam  house.  Only  after  they  have  thus 
remained  for  several  days — sometimes  up  to  a  fortnight — are 
they  put  into  the  storehouse  (see  Plate  XXXIII). 

Indeed,  it  would  be  enough  for  anyone  to  see  how  the 
natives  handle  the  yams,  how  they  admire  big  tubers,  how 
they  pick  out  freaks  and  sports  and  exhibit  them,  to  realise 
that  there  is  a  deep,  socially  standardised  sentiment  centring 
round  this  staple  product  of  their  gardens.  In  many  phases 
of  their  ceremonial  life,  big  displays  of  food  form  the  central 
feature.  Extensive  mortuary  distributions  called  sagali,  are, 
in  one  of  their  aspects,  enormous  exhibitions  of  food,  con- 
nected with  their  re-apportionment  (see  Plate  XXXIV).  At 
harvest  of  the  early  yams  (kuvi)  there  is  an  offering  of  first 
fruits  to  the  memory  of  the  recently  dead.  At  the  later,  main 
harvest  of  taitu  (small  yams),  the  first  tubers  are  dug  out 
ceremonially  brought  into  the  village  and  admired  by  the  whole 
community.  Food  contests  between  two  villages  at  harvest, 
in  olden  days  often  followed  by  actual  fighting,  are  also  one  of 
the  characteristic  features  which  throw  light  on  the  natives' 
attitude  towards  edible  wealth.  In  fact,  one  could  almost 
speak  of  a  "  cult  of  food  "  among  these  natives,  in  so  far  as  food 
is  the  central  object  of  most  of  their  public  ceremonies. 

In  the  preparation  of  food,  it  must  be  noted  that  many  taboos 
are  associated  with  cooking,  and  especially  with  the  cooking 


PLATE  XXXIV 


DISPLAY  OF  PIGS   AND    YAMS   AT   A    DISTRIBUTION    (SAGALI) 
All  food  to  be  given  away  is  several  times  displayed  before,  during,  and  after  the  ceremony. 
~ ""     '  '     '  irge,  prismatic  receptacles  (pwata'i)  is  one  of  the  typical  features  of 


Exhibiting  the  food  in  large. 


Trobriand  custom.     (See  Di1 


COMMUNAL   COOKING  OF  MONA  (TARO   DUMPLINGS) 

Large  claypots,  imported  from  the  Amphlctts,  are  used  for  the  purpose  ;  in  these,  coconut  oil 
is  brought  to  a  boil,  pieces  of  pounded  taro  being  thrown  in  afterwards,  while  a  man  stirs  the 
contents  with  a  long,  decorated,  wooden  ladle 


PLATE  XXXVI 


SCENE  IN  THE  WAS1  (CEREMONIAL  EXCHANGE  OF  VEGETABLES  FOR  FISH) 

The  inland  party  have  brought  their  yams  by  boat  to  the  village  of  Oburaku,  which  is  practically 

inaccessible  by  land.     They  are  putting  up  the  vegetables  into  square,  wooden  crates  in  order 

to  carry  them  ceremonially  and  to  place  each  before  the  partner's  house.     (Div.  VI.) 


PLATE  XXXVil 


VAVA,  DIRECT  BARTER  OF  VEGETABLES  FOR  FISH 

In  the  picture,  the  inland  natives  exchange  bundles  of  taro  directly  for  fish,  without  observing 
the  rites  and  ceremonies  obligatory  in  a  wasi.    (See  Div.  VI.) 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS    171 

pots.  The  wooden  dishes  on  which  the  natives  serve  their 
food  are  called  kabotna,  which  means  "  tabooed  wood/'  The 
act  of  eating  is  as  a  rule  strictly  individual.  People  eat  within 
their  family  circles,  and  even  when  there  is  public  ceremonial 
cooking  of  the  taro  pudding  (mono)  in  the  big  clay  pots, 
especially  tabooed  for  this  purpose  (see  Plate  XXXV),  they  do 
not  eat  in  one  body,  but  in  small  groups.  A  clay  pot  is  carried 
into  the  different  parts  of  the  village,  and  men  from  that  part 
squat  round  it  and  ejit,  followed  afterwards  by  the  women. 
Sometimes  again  the  pudding  is  taken  out,  placed  on  wooden 
dishes,  and  eaten  within  the  family. 

I  cannot  enter  here  into  the  many  details  of  what  could  be 
called  the  social  psychology  of  eating,  but  it  is  important  to 
note  that  the  centre  of  gravity  of  the  feast  lies,  not  in  the  eating, 
but  in  the  display  and  ceremonial  preparation  of  the  food  (see 
Plate  XXXV).  When  a  pig  is  to  be  killed,  which  is  a  great 
culinary  and  festive  event,  it  will  be  first  carried  about,  and 
shown  perhaps  in  one  or  two  villages  ;  then  roasted  alive, 
the  whole  village  and  neighbours  enjoying  the  spectacle  and  the 
squeals  of  the  animal.  It  is  then  ceremonially,  and  with  a 
definite  ritual,  cut  into  pieces  and  distributed.  But  the 
eating  of  it  is  a  casual  affair  ;  it  will  take  place  either  within  a 
hut,  or  else  people  will  just  cook  a  piece  of  flesh  and  eat  it  on 
the  road,  or  walking  about  in  the  village.  The  relics  of  a  feast 
such  as  pigs'  jaws  and  fish  tails,  however,  are  often  collected 
and  displayed  in  houses  or  yam  stores.* 

The  quantity  of  food  eaten,  whether  in  prospect  or  retro- 
spect, is  what  matters  most.  "  We  shall  eat,  and  eat  till  we 
vomit,"  is  a  stock  phrase,  often  heard  at  feasts,  intended  to 
express  enjoyment  of  the  occasion,  a  close  parallel  to  the 
pleasure  felt  at  the  idea  of  stores  rotting  away  in  the  yam 
house.  All  this  shows  that  the  social  act  of  eating  and  the 
associated  conviviality  are  not  present  in  the  minds  or  customs 
of  the  Trobrianders,  and  what  is  socially  enjoyed  is  the  common 
admiration  of  fine  and  plentiful  food,  and  the  knowledge  of  its 
abundance.  Naturally,  like  all  animals,  human  or  otherwise, 
civilised  or  savage,  the  Trobrianders  enjoy  their  eating  as  one 
of  the  chief  pleasures  of  life,  but  this  remains  an  individual 

*  As  a  matter  of  fact,  this  custom  is  not  so  prominent  in  the  Trobnands 
as  in  other  Massim  districts  and  all  over  the  Papuo-Melanesian  world,  cf.  for 
instance  Seligman,  op.  cit.t  p.  56  and  Plate  VI,  Fig.  6. 


172    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

act,  and  neither  its  performance  nor  the  sentiments  attached 
to  it  have  been  socialised. 

It  is  this  indirect  sentiment,  rooted  of  course  in  reality  in 
the  pleasures  of  eating,  which  makes  for  the  value  of  food  in 
the  eyes  of  the  natives.  This  value  again  makes  accumulated 
food  a  symbol,  and  a  vehicle  of  power.  Hence  the  need  for 
storing  and  displaying  it.  Value  is  not  the  result  of  ^utility  and 
rarity,  intellectually  compounded,  but  is  the  result  of  a  senti- 
ment grown  round  things,  which,  throygh  satisfying  human 
needs,  are  capable  of  evoking  emotions. 

The  value  of  manufactured  objects  of  use  must  also  be 
explained  through  man's  emotional  nature,  and  not  by 
reference  to  his  logical  construction  of  utilitarian  views. 
Here,  however,  I  think  that  the  explanation  must  take  into 
account,  not  so  much  the  user  of  these  objects,  as  the  workman 
who  produces  them.  These  natives  are  industrious,  and  keen 
workers.  They  do  not  work  under  the  spur  of  necessity,  or  to 
gain  their  living,  but  on  the  impulse  of  talent  and  fancy,  with 
a  high  sense  and  enjoyment  of  their  art,  which  they  often 
conceive  as  the  result  of  magical  inspiration.  This  refers 
especially  to  those  who  produce  objects  of  high  value,  and  who 
are  always  good  craftsmen  and  are  fond  of  their  workmanship. 
Now  these  native  artists  have  a  keen  appreciation  of  good 
material,  and  of  perfection  in  craft.  When  they  find  a 
specially  good  piece  of  material  it  lures  them  on  to  lavish 
on  it  an  excess  of  labour,  and  to  produce  things  too 
good  to  be  used,  but  only  so  much  the  more  desirable  for 
possession. 

The  careful  manner  of  working,  the  perfection  of  craft- 
manship,  the  discrimination  in  material,  the  inexhaustible 
patience  in  giving  the  final  touches,  have  been  often  noted 
by  those  who  have  seen  natives  at  work.  These  observations 
have  also  come  under  the  notice  of  some  theoretical  economists, 
but  it  is  necessary  to  see  these  facts  in  their  bearing  upon  the 
theory  of  value.  That  is,  namely,  that  this  loving  attitude 
towards  material  and  work  must  produce  a  sentiment  of  attach- 
ment to  rare  materials  and  well-worked  objects,  and  that  this 
must  result  in  their  being  valued.  Value  will  be  attached  to 
rare  forms  of  such  materials  as  the  craftsman  generally  uses  : 
classes  of  shell  which  are  scarce,  lending  themselves  especially 
to  fashioning  and  polishing  ;  kinds  of  wood  which  are  also 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     173 

rare,  like  ebony  ;    and  more  particularly,  special  varieties  of 
that  stone  out  of  which  implements  are  made.* 

We  can  now  compare  our  results  with  the  fallacious  views 
on  Primitive  Economic  Man,  sketched  out  at  the  beginning  of 
this  Division.  We  see  that  value  and  wealth  exist,  in  spite  of 
abundance  of  things,  that  indeed  this  abundance  is  valued  for 
its  own  sake.  Great  quantities  are  produced  beyond  any 
possible  utility  they  could  possess,  out  of  mere  love  of  accumu- 
lation for  its  own  sake  ;  food  is  allowed  to  rot,  and  though 
they  have  all  they  could  desire  in  necessities,  yet  the  natives 
want  always  more,  to  serve  in  its  character  of  wealth.  Again, 
in  manufactured  objects,  and  more  especially  in  objects  of  the 
vaygu'a  type  (comp.  Chapter  III,  Div.  Ill),  it  is  not  rarity 
within  utility  which  creates  value,  but  a  rarity  sought  out  by 
human  skill  within  the  workable  materials.  In  other  words, 
not  those  things  are  valued,  which  being  useful  or  even  indis- 
pensable are  hard  to  get,  since  all  the  necessities  of  life  are  within 
easy  reach  of  the  Trobriand  Islander.  But  such  an  article  is 
valued  where  the  workman,  having  found  specially  fine  or 
sportive  material,  has  been  induced  to  spend  a  disproportionate 
amount  of  labour  on  it.  By  doing  so,  he  creates  an  object 
\vhich  is  a  kind  of  economic  monstrosity,  too  good,  too  big, 
too  frail,  or  too  overcharged  with  ornament  to  be  used,  yet  just 
because  of  that,  highly  valued. 

V 

Thus  the  first  assumption  is  exploded,  "  that  there  is  no 
room  for  wealth  or  value  in  native  societies."  What  about 
the  other  assumption,  namely,  "  That  there  is  no  need  to 
exchange  if  anyone  can  by  industry  and  skill,  produce  all  that 
represents  value  through  its  quantity  or  its  quality  ?  "  This 
assumption  is  confuted  by  realising  a  fundamental  fact  of 
native  usage  and  psychology  :  the  love  of  give  and  take  for  its 
own  sake  ;  the  active  enjoyment  in  possession  of  wealth, 
through  handing  it  over. 

In  studying  any  sociological  questions  in  the  Trobriands,  in 
describing  the  ceremonial  side  of  tribal  life,  or  religion  and 
magic,  we  constantly  meet  with  this  give  and  take,  with 

*  Again,  in  explaining  value,  I  do  not  wish  to  trace  its  possible  origins, 
but  I  try  simply  to  show  what  are  the  actual  and  observable  elements  into  which 
the  natives'  attitude  towards  the  object  valued  can  be  analysed. 


174    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

exchange  of  gifts  and  payments.  I  had  occasion  several  times 
to  mention  this  general  feature,  and  in  the  short  outline  of  the 
Trobriand  sociology  in  Chapter  II,  I  gave  some  examples  of 
it.  Even  a  walk  across  the  island,  such  as  we  imagined  in  that 
chapter,  would  reveal  to  an  open-eyed  Ethnographer  this 
economic  truth.  He  would  see  visiting  parties — women  carry- 
ing big  food  baskets  on  their  head,  men  with  loads  on  their 
shoulders — and  on  inquiring  he  would  learn  that  these  were 
gifts  to  be  presented  under  one  of  the  many  names  they  bear,  in 
fulfilment  of  some  social  obligation.  Offerings  of  first  fruits 
are  given  to  the  chief  or  to  relatives-in-law,  when  the  mango  or 
bread  fruit  or  sugar  cane  are  ripe.  Big  quantities  of  sugar  cane 
being  borne  to  a  chief,  carried  by  some  twenty  to  thirty  men 
running  along  the  road,  produce  the  impressions  of  a  tropical 
Birnam  Wood  moving  through  the  jungle.  At  harvest  time  all 
the  roads  are  full  of  big  parties  of  men  carrying  food,  or 
returning  with  empty  baskets.  From  the  far  North  of  Kiriwina 
a  party  will  have  to  run  for  some  twelve  miles  to  the  creek 
of  Tukwa'ukwa,  get  into  canoes,  punt  for  miles  along  the 
shallow  Lagoon,  and  have  another  good  walk  inland  from 
Sinaketa  ;  and  all  this  is  in  order  to  fill  the  yam  house  of  a  man 
who  could  do  it  quite  well  for  himself,  if  it  were  not  that  he  is 
under  obligation  to  give  all  the  harvest  to  his  sister's  husband  ! 
Displays  of  gifts  associated  with  marriage,  with  sagali  (food 
distributions),  with  payments  for  magic,  all  these  are  some 
of  the  most  picturesque  characteristics  of  the  Trobriand 
garden,  road  and  village,  and  must  impress  themselves  upon 
even  a  superficial  observer. 

The  second  fallacy,  that  man  keeps  all  he  needs  and  never 
spontaneously  gives  it  away,  must  therefore  be  completely 
discarded.  Not  that  the  natives  do  not  possess  a  strongly 
retentive  tendency.  To  imagine  that  they  differ  from 
other  human  beings  in  this,  would  be  to  fall  out  of  one  fallacy 
into  the  opposite  one  also  already  mentioned,  namely  that 
there  is  a  sort  of  primitive  communism  among  the  natives. 
On  the  contrary,  just  because  they  think  so  much  of  giving, 
the  distinction  between  mine  and  thine  is  not  obliterated  but 
enhanced  ;  for  the  presents  are  by  no  means  given  hap- 
hazardly, but  practically  always  in  fulfilment  of  definite  obliga- 
tions, and  with  a  great  deal  of  formal  punctilio.  The  very 
fundamental  motive  of  giving,  the  vanity  of  a  display  of 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     175 

possession  and  power,  a  limine  rules  out  any  assumption  of 
communistic  tendencies  or  institutions.  Not  in  all  cases,  but 
in  many  of  them,  the  handing  over  of  wealth  is  the  expression 
of  the  superiority  of  the  giver  over  the  recipient.  In  others, 
it  represents  subordination  to  a  chief,  or  a  kinship  relation  or 
relationship-in-law.  And  it  is  important  to  realise  that  in 
almost  all  forms  of  exchange  in  the  Trobriands,  there  is  not 
even  a  trace  of  gain,  nor  is  there  any  reason  for  looking  at  it 
from  the  purely  utilitarian  and  economic  standpoint,  since 
there  is  no  enhancement  of  mutual  utility  through  the  exchange. 

Thus,  it  is  quite  a  usual  thing  in  the  Trobriands  for  a  type  of 
transaction  to  take  place  in  which  A  gives  twenty  baskets 
of  yams  to  B,  receiving  for  it  a  small  polished  blade,  only  to 
have  the  whole  transaction  reversed  in  a  few  weeks'  time. 
Again,  at  a  certain  stage  of  mortuary  ritual,  a  present  of 
valuables  is  given,  and  on  the  same  day  later  on,  the  identical 
articles  are  returned  to  the  giver.  Cases  like  that  described 
in  the  kabigidoya  custom  (Div.  Ill  of  this  chapter),  where  each 
owner  of  a  new  canoe  made  a  round  of  all  the  others,  each  thus 
giving  away  again  what  he  receives,  are  typical.  In  the  wast — 
exchange  of  fish  for  yams,  to  be  described  presently — through 
a  practically  useless  gift,  a  burdensome  obligation  is  imposed, 
and  one  might  speak  of  an  increase  of  burdens  rather  than  an 
increase  of  utilities. 

The  view  that  the  native  can  live  in  a  state  of  individual 
search  for  food,  or  catering  for  his  own  household  only,  in 
isolation  from  any  interchange  of  goods,  implies  a  calculating, 
cold  egotism,  the  possibility  of  enjoyment  by  man  of  utilities 
for  their  sake.  This  view,  and  all  the  previously  criticised 
assumptions,  ignore  the  fundamental  human  impulse  to  display, 
to  share,  to  bestow.  They  ignore  the  deep  tendency  to  create 
social  ties  through  exchange  of  gifts.  Apart  from  any  consider- 
ation as  to  whether  the  gifts  are  necessary  or  even  useful,  giving 
for  the  sake  of  giving  is  one  of  the  most  important  features  of 
Trobriand  sociology,  and,  from  its  very  general  and  funda- 
mental nature,  I  submit  that  it  is  a  universal  feature  of  all 
primitive  societies. 

I  have  dwelt  at  length  on  economic  facts  which  on  the 
surface  are  not  directly  connected  with  the  Kula.  But  if  we 
realise  that  in  these  facts  we  may  be  able  to  read  the  native's 
attitude  towards  wealth  and  value,  their  importance  for  the 


176    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

main  theme  becomes  obvious.  The  Kula  is  the  highest  and  the 
most  dramatic  expression  of  the  native's  conception  of  value/ 
and  if  we  want  to  understand  all  the  customs  and  actions  of  the 
Kula  in  their  real  bearings  we  must,  first  and  foremost,  grasp 
the  psychology  that  lies  at  its  basis. 

VI 

I  have  on  purpose  spoken  of  forms  of  exchange,  of  gifts 
and  counter-gifts,  rather  than  of  barter  or  trade,  because, 
although  there  exist  forms  of  barter  pure  and  simple,  there 
are  so  many  transitions  and  gradations  between  that  and 
simple  gift,  that  it  is  impossible  to  draw  any  fixed  line  between 
trade  on  the  one  hand,  and  exchange  of  gifts  on  the  other. 
Indeed,  the  drawing  of  any  lines  to  suit  our  own  terminology 
and  our  own  distinctions  is  contrary  to  sound  method.  In 
order  to  deal  with  these  facts  correctly  it  is  necessary 
to  give  a  complete  survey  of  all  forms  of  payment  or 
present.  In  this  survey  there  will  be  at  one  end  the  extreme 
case  of  pure  gift,  that  is  an  offering  for  which  nothing  is  given 
in  return.  Then,  through  many  customary  forms  of  gift  or 
payment,  partially  or  conditionally  returned,  which  shade  into 
each  other,  there  come  forms  of  exchange,  where  more  or  less 
strict  equivalence  is  observed,  arriving  finally  at  real  barter. 
In  the  following  survey  I  shall  roughly  classify  each  trans- 
action according  to  the  principle  of  its  equivalence. 

Such  tabularised  accounts  cannot  give  the  same  clear 
vision  of  facts  as  a  concrete  description  might  do,  and  they  even 
produce  the  impression  of  artificiality,  but,  and  this  must  be 
emphatically  stated,  I  shall  not  introduce  here  artificial 
categories,  foreign  to  the  native  mind.  Nothing  is  so  mis- 
leading in  ethnographic  accounts  as  the  description  of  facts  of 
native  civilisations  in  terms  of  our  own.  This,  however,  shall 
not  be  done  here.  The  principles  of  arrangement,  although 
quite  beyond  the  comprehension  of  the  natives,  are  never- 
theless contained  in  their  social  organisation,  customs,  and 
even  in  their  linguistic  terminology.  This  latter  always  affords 
the  simplest  and  surest  means  of  approach  towards  the  under- 
standing of  native  distinctions  and  classifications.  But  it  also 
must  be  remembered  that,  though  important  as  a  clue  to 
native  ideas,  the  knowledge  of  terminology  is  not  a  miraculous 
short-cut  into  the  native's  mind.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  there 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     177 

exist  many  salient  and  extremely  important  features  of 
Trobriand  sociology  and  social  psychology,  which  are  not 
covered  by  any  term,  whereas  their  language  distinguishes 
sub-divisions  and  subtleties  which  are  quite  irrelevant  with 
regard  to  actual  conditions.  Thus,  a  survey  of  terminology 
must  always  be  supplemented  by  a  direct  analysis  of  ethno- 
graphic fact  and  inquiry  into  the  native's  ideas,  that  is,  by 
collecting  a  body  of  opinions,  typical  expressions,  and 
customary  phrases  by  direct  cross-questioning.  The  most 
conclusive  and  deepest  insight,  however,  must  always  be 
obtained  by  a  study  of  behaviour,  by  analysis  of  ethnographic 
custom  and  concrete  cases  of  traditional  rules. 


LIST  OF  GIFTS,  PAYMENTS,  AND  COMMERCIAL  TRANSACTIONS. 

i.  Pure  Gifts. — By  this,  as  just  mentioned,  we  understand 
an  act,  in  which  an  individual  gives  an  object  or  renders  a 
service  without  expecting  or  getting  any  return.  This  is  not 
a  type  of  transaction  very  frequently  met  in  Trobriand  tribal 
life.  It  must  be  remembered  that  accidental  or  spontaneous 
gifts,  such  as  alms  or  charities,  do  not  exist,  since  everybody 
in  need  would  be  maintained  by  his  or  her  family.  Again, 
there  are  so  many  well-defined  economic  obligations,  con- 
nected with  kinship  and  relationship-in-law,  that  anyone 
wanting  a  thing  or  a  service  would  know  where  to  go  and  ask 
for  it.  And  then,  of  course,  it  would  not  be  a  free  gift,  but  one 
imposed  by  some  social  obligation.  Moreover,  since  gifts  in  the 
Trobriands  are  conceived  as  definite  acts  with  a  social  meaning, 
rather  than  transmissions  of  objects,  it  results  that  where 
social  duties  do  not  directly  impose  them,  gifts  are  very  rare. 

The  most  important  type  of  free  gift  are  the  presents 
characteristic  of  relations  between  husband  and  wife,  and 
parents  and  children.  Among  the  Trobrianders,  husband  and 
wife  own  their  things  separately.  There  are  man's  and 
woman's  possessions,  and  each  of  the  two  partners  has  a  special 
part  of  the  household  goods  under  control.  When  one  of  them 
dies,  his  or  her  relations  inherit  the  things.  But  though  the 
possessions  are  not  joint,  they  very  often  give  presents  to  one 
another,  more  especially  a  husband  to  his  wife. 

As  to  the  parents'  gifts  to  the  children,  it  is  clear  that  in  a 
matrilineal  society,  where  the  mother  is  the  nearest  of  km  to 


178     TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

her  children  in  a  sense  quite  different  to  that  in  our  society, 
they  share  in  and  inherit  from  her  all  her  possessions.  It  is 
more  remarkable  that  the  father,  who,  according  to  native 
belief  and  law,  is  only  the  mother's  husband,  and  not  the  kins- 
man of  the  children,  is  the  only  relation  from  whom  free  gifts 
are  expected.*  The  father  will  give  freely  of  his  valuables  to  a 
son,  and  he  will  transmit  to  him  his  relationships  ii>  the  Kula, 
according  to  the  definite  rules  by  which  it  is  done  (see  Chapter 
XI,  Division  II).  Also,  one  of  the  most  valuable  and  valued 
possessions,  the  knowledge  of  magic,  is  handed  over  willingly, 
and  free  of  any  counter-gift,  from  father  to  son.  The  owner- 
ship of  trees  in  the  village  grove  and  ownership  in  garden  plots 
is  ceded  by  the  father  to  his  son  during  the  lifetime  of  the 
former.  At  his  death,  it  often  has  to  be  returned  to  the  man's 
rightful  heirs,  that  is,  his  sister's  children.  All  the  objects  of 
use  embraced  by  the  term  gugua  will  be  shared  with  him  as  a 
matter  of  course  by  a  man's  children.  Also,  any  special 
luxuries  in  food,  or  such  things  as  betel-nut  or  tobacco,  he  will 
share  with  his  children  as  well  as  with  his  wife.  In  all  such 
small  articles  of  indulgence,  free  distribution  will  also  obtain 
between  the  chief  or  the  headman  and  his  vassals,  though  not 
in  such  a  generous  spirit,  as  within  the  family.  In  fact,  every- 
one who  possesses  betel-nut  or  tobacco  in  excess  of  what  he  can 
actually  consume  on  the  spot,  would  be  expected  to  give  it 
away.  This  very  special  rule,  which  also  happens  to  apply  to 
such  articles  as  are  generally  used  by  white  men  for  trade,  has 
largely  contributed  to  the  tenacity  of  the  idea  of  the  com- 
munistic native.  In  fact,  many  a  man  will  carefully  conceal 
any  surplus  so  as  to  avoid  the  obligation  of  sharing  it  and  yet 
escape  the  opprobrium  attaching  to  meanness. 

There  is  no  comprehensive  name  for  this  class  of  free  gifts 
in  native  terminology.  The  verb  "  to  give  "  (sayki)  would 
simply  be  used,  and  on  inquiry  as  to  whether  there  was  repay- 
ment for  such  a  gift,  the  natives  would  directly  answer  that 
this  was  a  gift  without  repayment ;  mapula  being  the  general 
term  for  return  gifts,  and  retributions,  economic  as  well  as 
otherwise.  The  natives  undoubtedly  would  not  think  of  free 
gifts  as  forming  one  class,  as  being  all  of  the  same  nature. 
The  acts  of  liberality  on  the  part  of  the  chief,  the  sharing  of 

*  These  natives  have  no  idea  of  physiological  fatherhood.    See  Chapter 
II,  Division  VI. 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     179 

tobacco  and  betel-nut  by  anybody  who  has  some  to  spare, 
would  be  taken  as  a  matter  of  course.  Gifts  by  a  husband 
to  a  wife  are  considered  also  as  rooted  in  the  nature  of  this 
relationship.  They  have  as  a  matter  of  fact  a  very  coarse  and 
direct  way  of  formulating  that  such  gifts  are  the  mapula 
(payment)  for  matrimonial  relations,  a  conception  in  harmony 
with  the  ideas  underlying  another  type  of  gift,  of  which  I 
shall  speak  presently,  that  given  in  return  for  sexual  intercourse. 
Economically  the  two  are  entirely  different,  since  those  of 
husband  to  wife  are  casual  gifts  within  a  permanent  relation- 
ship, whereas  the  others  are  definite  payment  for  favours  given 
on  special  occasions. 

The  most  remarkable  fact,  however,  is  that  the  same 
explanation  is  given  for  the  free  gifts  given  by  the  father  to  his 
children  ;  that  is  to  say,  a  gift  given  by  a  father  to  his  son  is 
said  to  be  a  repayment  for  the  man's  relationship  to  the  son's 
mother.  According  to  the  matrilineal  set  of  ideas  about 
kinship,  mother  and  son  are  one,  but  the  father  is  a  stranger 
(tomakava)  to  his  son,  an  expression  often  used  when  these 
matters  are  discussed.  There  is  no  doubt,  however,  that  the 
state  of  affairs  is  much  more  complex,  for  there  is  a  very  strong 
direct  emotional  attitude  between  father  and  child.  The 
father  wants  always  to  give  things  to  his  child,  as  I  have  said, 
(compare  Chapter  II,  Division  VI),  and  this  is  very  well 
realised  by  the  natives  themselves. 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  psychology  underlying  these 
conditions  is  this  :  normally  a  man  is  emotionally  attached  to 
his  wife,  and  has  a  very  strong  personal  affection  towards  his 
children,  and  expresses  these  feelings  by  gifts,  and  more 
especially  by  trying  to  endow  his  children  with  as  much  of  his 
wealth  and  position  as  he  can.  This,  however,  runs  counter  to 
the  matrilineal  principle  as  well  as  to  the  general  rule  that  all 
gifts  require  repayment,  and  so  these  gifts  are  explained  away 
by  the  natives  in  a  manner  that  agrees  with  these  rules.  The 
above  crude  explanation  of  the  natives  by  reference  to  sex 
payment  is  a  document,  which  in  a  very  illuminating  manner 
shows  up  the  conflict  between  the  matrilineal  theory  and 
the  actual  sentiments  of  the  natives,  and  also  how  necessary 
it  is  to  check  the  explicit  statements  of  natives,  and  the  views 
contained  in  their  terms  and  phraseology  by  direct  observation 
of  full-blooded  life,  in  which  we  see  man  not  only  laying  down 


i8o        TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

rules  and  theories,  but  behaving  under  the  impulse  of  instinct 
and  emotion. 

2.  Customary  payments,  re-paid  irregularly,  and  without 
strict  equivalence. — The  most  important  of  these  are  the  annual 
payments  received  at  harvest  time  by  a  man  from  his  wife's 
brothers  (cf.  Chapter  II,  Divisions  IV  and  V).  These 
regular  and  unfailing  gifts  are  so  substantial,  that  they  form 
the  bulk  of  a  man's  income  in  food.  Sociologically,  they  are 
perhaps  the  strongest  strand  in  the  fabric  of  the  Trobriands 
tribal  constitution.  They  entail  a  life-long  obligation  of  every 
man  'to  work  for  his  kinswomen  and  their  families.  When  a 
boy  begins  to  garden,  he  does  it  for  his  mother.  When  his 
sisters  grow  up  and  marry,  he  works  for  them.  If  he  has  neither 
mother  nor  sisters,  his  nearest  female  blood  relation  will  claim 
the  proceeds  of  his  labour.* 

The  reciprocity  in  these  gifts  never  amounts  to  their  full 
value,  but  the  recipient  is  supposed  to  give  a  valuable  (vaygu'a) 
or  a  pig  to  his  wife's  brother  from  time  to  time.  Again  if  he 
summons  his  wife's  kinsmen  to  do  communal  work  for  him, 
according  to  the  kabutu  system,  he  pays  them  in  food.  In 
this  case  also  the  payments  are  not  the  full  equivalent  of  the 
services  rendered.  Thus  we  see  that  the  relationship  between 
a  man  and  his  wife's  kinsmen  is  full  of  mutual  gifts  and 
services,  in  which  repayment,  however,  by  the  husband,  is  not 
equivalent  and  regular,  but  spasmodic  and  smaller  in  value 
than  his  own  share ;  and  even  if  for  some  reason  or  other  it 
ever  fails,  this  does  not  relieve  the  others  from  their  obligations. 
In  the  case  of  a  chief,  the  duties  of  his  numerous  relatives-in- 
law  have  to  be  much  more  stringently  observed  ;  that  is,  they 
have  to  give  him  much  bigger  harvest  gifts,  and  they  also  have 
to  keep  pigs,  and  grow  betel  and  coco-nut  palms  for  him.  For 
all  this,  they  are  rewarded  by  correspondingly  large  presents  of 
valuables,  which  again,  however,  do  not  fully  repay  them  for 
their  contributions. 

The  tributes  given  by  vassal  village  communities  to  a  chief 
and  usually  repaid  by  small  counter-gifts,  also  belong  to  this 
class.  Besides  these,  there  are  the  contributions  given  by  one 
kinsman  to  another,  when  this  latter  has  to  carry  out  a 
mortuary  distribution  (sagali).  Such  contributions  are  some- 

*  Compare  Plate  XXXIII,  where  the  yam  houses  of  a  headman  arc  filled 
by  his  wife's  brothers. 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     181 

times,  but  irregularly  and  spasmodically,  repaid  by  objects  of 
small  value. 

The  natives  do  not  embrace  this  class  under  one  term,  but 
the  word  urigubu,  which  designates  harvest  gifts  from  the  wife's 
brothers,  stands  for  one  of  the  most  important  conceptions  of 
native  sociology  and  economics.  They  have  quite  a  clear  idea 
about  the  many  characteristics  of  the  urigubu  duties,  which  have 
have  been  described  here,  and  about  their  far-reaching 
importance.  The  occasional  counter  gifts  given  by  the  husband 
to  his  wife's  kinsmen  are  called  youlo.  The  chief's  tributes 
which  we  have  put  in  this  category  are  called  pokala.  The 
placing  of  these  two  types  of  payment  in  one  category  is 
justified  both  by  the  similar  mechanism,  and  by  the  close 
resemblance  between  the  urigubu  gifts,  when  given  to  a  chief, 
and  the  pokala  received  by  him.  There  are  even  resemblances 
in  the  actual  ceremonial,  which  however,  would  require  too 
much  of  a  detailed  description  to  be  more  than  mentioned  here. 
The  word  pokala  is  a  general  term  for  the  chief's  tributes,  and 
there  are  several  other  expressions  which  cover  gifts  of  first 
fruit,  gifts  at  the  main  harvest,  and  some  other  sub-divisions. 
There  are  also  terms  describing  the  various  counter-gifts 
given  by  a  chief  to  those  who  pay  him  tribute,  according 
to  whether  they  consist  of  pig's  flesh  or  yams  or  fruit.  I 
am  not  mentioning  all  these  native  words,  in  order  not  to 
overload  the  account  with  details,  which  would  be  irrelevant 
here. 

3.  Payment  for  services  rendered.  This  class  differs  from 
the  foregoing  one  in  that  here  the  payment  is  within  limits 
defined  by  custom.  It  has  to  be  given  each  time  the  service 
is  performed,  but  we  cannot  speak  here  of  direct  economic 
equivalence,  since  one  of  the  terms  of  the  equation  consists  of  a 
service,  the  value  of  which  cannot  be  assessed,  except  by  con- 
ventional estimates.  All  services  done  by  specialists  for 
individuals  or  for  the  community,  belong  here.  The  most  im- 
portant of  these  are  undoubtedly  the  services  of  the  magician. 
The  garden  magician,  for  instance,  receives  definite  gifts  from 
the  community  and  from  certain  individuals.  The  sorcerer 
is  paid  by  the  man  who  asks  him  to  kill  or  who  desires  to  be 
healed.  The  presents  given  for  magic  of  rain  and  fair  weather 
are  very  considerable.  I  have  already  described  the  payments 
given  to  a  canoe-builder.  I  shall  have  to  speak  later  on  of 


182    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

those  received  by  the  specialists  who  make  the  various  types  of 
vaygu'a. 

Here  also  belong  the  payments,  always  associated  with 
love  intrigues.  Disinterested  love  is  quite  unknown  among 
these  people  of  great  sexual  laxity.  Every  time  a  girl  favours 
her  lover,  some  small  gift  has  to  be  given  immediately.  This 
is  the  case  in  the  normal  intrigues,  going  on  every"  night  in  the 
village  between  unmarried  girls  and  boys,  and  also  in  more 
ceremonial  cases  of  indulgence,  like  the  katuyausi  custom,  or 
the  mortuary  consolations,  mentioned  in  Chapter  II,  Division 
II.  A  few  areca-nuts,  some  betel  pepper,  a  bit  of  tobacco, 
some  turtle-shell  rings,  or  spondylus  discs,  such  are  the  small 
tokens  of  gratitude  and  appreciation  never  omitted  by  the 
youth.  An  attractive  girl  need  never  go  unprovided  with  the 
small  luxuries  of  life. 

The  big  mortuary  distributions  of  food,  sagali,  have  already 
been  mentioned  several  times.  On  their  economic  side,  these 
distributions  are  payments  for  funerary  services.  The  deceased 
man's  nearest  maternal  kinsman  has  to  give  food  gifts  to  all  the 
villagers  for  their  assuming  mourning,  that  is  to  say,  for 
blackening  their  faces  and  cutting  their  hair.  He  pays  some 
other  special  people  for  wailing  and  grave  digging ;  a  still 
smaller  group  for  cutting  out  the  dead  man's  ulna  and  using  it 
as  a  lime  spoon  ;  and  the  widow  or  widower  for  the  pro- 
longed and  scrupulously  to  be  observed  period  of  Strict 
mourning. 

All  these  details  show  how  universal  and  strict  is  the  idea 
that  every  social  obligation  or  duty,  though  it  may  not  on  any 
account  be  evaded,  has  yet  to  be  re-paid  by  a  ceremonial  gift. 
The  function  of  these  ceremonial  re-payments  is,  on  the  surface 
of  it,  to  thicken  the  social  ties  from  which  arise  the  obligations. 

The  similarity  of  the  gifts  and  payments  which  we  have  put 
into  this  category  is  expressed  by  the  native  use  of  the  word 
mapula  (repayment,  equivalent)  in  connection  with  all  these 
gifts.  Thus  in  giving  the  reason  why  a  certain  present  is  made 
to  a  magician,  or  why  a  share  is  allotted  to  a  man  at  the 
sagali  (distribution),  or  why  some  valuable  object  is  given  to  a 
specialist,  they  would  say  :  "  This  is  the  mapula  for  what  he 
has  done."  Another  interesting  identification  contained  in 
linguistic  usage  is  the  calling  of  both  magical  payments  and 
payments  to  specialists :  a  '  restorative/  or,  literally,  a 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     183 

'  poultice.'  Certain  extra  fees  given  to  a  magician  are 
described  as  '  katuwarina  kaykela  '  or  '  poultice  for  his  leg  * ; 
as  the  magician,  especially  he  of  the  garden  or  the  sorcerer, 
has  to  take  long  walks  in  connection  with  his  magic.  The 
expression  '  poultice  of  my  back/  will  be  used  by  a  canoe- 
builder  who  has  been  bending  over  his  work,  or  '  poultice  of  my 
hand  '  by  a  carver  or  stone-polisher.  But  the  identity  of  these 
gifts  is  not  in  any  way  expressed  in  the  detailed  terminology. 
In  fact,  there  is  a  list  of  words  describing  the  various  payments 
for  magic,  the  gifts  given  to  specialists,  love  payments,  and  the 
numerous  types  of  gifts  distinguished  at  the  sagali.  Thus 
a  magical  payment,  of  which  a  small  part  would  be  offered  to 
ancestral  spirits,  is  called  ula'ula ;  a  substantial  magical  gift 
is  called  sousula  ;  a  gift  to  a  sorcerer  is  described  by  the  verb 
ibudipeta,  and  there  are  many  more  special  names.  The  gifts 
to  the  specialists  are  called  vewoulo — the  initial  gift ;  yomelu — 
a  gift  of  food  given  after  the  object  has  been  ceremonially 
handed  over  to  the  owner  ;  karibudaboda — a  substantial  gift  of 
yams  given  at  the  next  harvest.  The  gifts  of  food,  made  while 
the  work  is  in  progress  are  called  vakapula ;  but  this  latter 
term  has  much  wider  application,  as  it  covers  all  the  presents 
of  cooked  or  raw  food  given  to  workers  by  the  man,  for  whom 
they  work.  The  sexual  gifts  are  called  buwana  or  sebuwana. 
I  shall  not  enumerate  the  various  terminological  distinctions 
of  sagali  gifts,  as  this  would  be  impossible  to  do,  without 
entering  upon  the  enormous  subject  of  mortuary  duties  and 
distributions. 

The  classification  of  love  gifts  and  sagali  gifts  in  the  same 
category  with  gifts  to  magicians  and  specialists,  is  a  generalisa- 
tion in  which  the  natives  would  not  be  able  to  follow  us.  For 
them,  the  gifts  given  at  sagali  form  a  class  in  themselves  and 
so  do  the  love  gifts.  We  may  say  that,  from  the  economic 
point  of  view,  we  were  correct  in  classing  all  these  gifts 
together,  because  they  all  represent  a  definite  type  of  equiva- 
lence ;  also  they  correspond  to  the  native  idea  that  every  ser- 
vice has  to  be  paid  for,  an  idea  documented  by  the  linguistic 
use  of  the  word  mapula.  But  within  this  class,  the  sub- 
divisions corresponding  to  native  terminology  represent  impor- 
tant distinctions  made  by  the  natives  between  the  three 
sub-classes  ;  love  gifts,  sagali  gifts,  and  gifts  for  magical  and 
professional  services. 


i84    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

4.  Gifts  returned  in  economically  equivalent  form  —We  are 
enumerating  the  various  types  of  exchange,  as  they  gradually 
assume  the  appearance  of  trade.  In  this  fourth  class  have  been 
put  such  gifts  as  must  be  re-paid  with  almost  strict  equivalence. 
But  it  must  be  stressed  that  strict  equivalence  of  two  gifts  does 
not  assimilate  them  to  trade  altogether.  There  can  be  no  more 
perfect  equivalence  between  gift  and  counter-gift,  than  when  A 
gives  to  B  an  object,  and  B  on  the  same  day  returns  the  very 
same  object  to  A.  At  a  certain  stage  of  the  mortuary  pro- 
ceedings, such  a  gift  is  given  and  received  back  again  by  a 
deceased  man's  kinsmen  and  his  widow's  brothers.  Yet  it  is 
obvious  at  once  that  no  transaction  could  be  further  removed 
from  trade.  The  above  described  gifts  at  the  presentation  of 
new  canoes  (kabigidoya)  belong  to  this  class.  So  do  also  numer- 
ous presents  given  to  one  community  by  another,  on  visits 
which  are  going  to  be  returned  soon.  Payments  for  the  lease  of 
a  garden  plot  are  at  least  in  certain  districts  of  the  Trobriands 
returned  by  a  gift  of  equivalent  value. 

Sociologically,  this  class  of  gifts  is  characteristic  of  the 
relationship  between  friends  (luba'i).  Thus  the  kabigidoya 
takes  place  between  friends,  the  Kula  takes  place  between 
overseas  partners  and  inland  friends,  but  of  course  relations- 
in-law  also  belong  par  excellence  to  this  category. 

Other  types  of  equivalent  gifts  which  have  to  be  mentioned 
here  shortly,  are  the  presents  given  by  one  household  to  another, 
at  the  milamala,  the  festive  period  associated  with  the  return 
of  the  ancestral  spirits  to  their  villages.  Offerings  of  cooked 
food  are  ceremonially  exposed  in  houses  for  the  use  of  the 
spirits,  and  after  these  have  consumed  the  spiritual  substance, 
the  material  one  is  given  to  a  neighbouring  household.  These 
gifts  are  always  reciprocal. 

Again,  a  series  of  mutual  gifts  exchanged  immediately  after 
marriage  between  a  man  and  his  wife's  father  (not  matrilineal 
kinsman  in  this  case),  have  to  be  put  into  this  category. 

The  economic  similarity  of  these  gifts  is  not  expressed  in 
terminology  or  even  in  linguistic  use.  All  the  gifts  I  have 
enumerated  have  their  own  special  names,  which  I  shall  not 
adduce  here,  so  as  not  to  multiply  irrelevant  details  of  infor- 
mation. The  natives  have  no  comprehensive  idea  that  such 
a  class  as  I  have  spoken  of  exists.  My  generalisation  is  based 
upon  the  very  interesting  fact,  that  all  through  the  tribal  life 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     185 

we  find  scattered  cases  of  direct  exchange  of  equivalent 
gifts.  Nothing  perhaps  could  show  up  so  clearly,  how 
much  the  natives  value  the  give  and  take  of  presents  for 
its  own  sake. 

5.  Exchange  of  Material  Goods  against  Privileges,  Titles 
and  non- material  Possessions.  Under  this  heading,  I  class 
transactions  which  approach  trade,  in  so  far  as  two  owners, 
each  possessing  something  they  value  highly,  exchange  it  for 
something  they  value  still  more.  The  equivalence  here  is  not 
so  strict,  at  any  rate  not  so  measurable,  as  in  the  previous 
class,  because  in  this  one,  one  of  the  terms  is  usually  a  non- 
material  possession,  such  as  the  knowledge  of  magic,  the 
privilege  to  execute  a  dance,  or  the  title  to  a  garden  plot,  which 
latter  very  often  is  a  mere  title  only.  But  in  spite  of  this 
smaller  measure  of  equivalence,  their  character  of  trade  is 
more  marked,  just  because  of  the  element  of  mutual  desire  to 
carry  out  the  transaction  and  of  the  mutual  advantage. 

Two  important  types  of  transaction  belong  to  this  class. 
One  of  them  is  the  acquisition  by  a  man  of  the  goods  or 
privileges  which  are  due  to  him  by  inheritance  from  his  maternal 
uncle  or  elder  brother,  but  which  he  wishes  to  acquire  before 
the  elder's  death.  If  a  maternal  uncle  is  to  give  up  in  his 
life  time  a  garden,  or  to  teach  and  hand  over  a  system  ot 
magic,  he  has  to  be  paid  for  that.  As  a  rule  several  payments, 
and  very  substantial  ones,  have  to  be  given  to  him,  and  he 
gradually  relinquishes  his  rights,  giving  the  garden  land,  bit 
by  bit,  teaching  the  magic  in  instalments.  After  the  final 
payment,  the  title  of  ownership  is  definitely  handed  over  to 
the  younger  man. 

I  have  drawn  attention  already  in  the  general  description 
of  the  Trobriand  Sociology  (Chapter  II,  Division  VI)  to  the 
remarkable  contrast  between  matrilineal  inheritance  and  that 
between  father  and  son.  It  is  noteworthy  that  what  is  con- 
sidered by  the  natives  rightful  inheritance  has  yet  to  be  paid 
for,  and  that  a  man  who  knows  that  in  any  case  he  would 
obtain  a  privilege  sooner  or  later,  if  he  wants  it  at  once,  must 
pay  for  it,  and  that  heavily.  None  the  less,  this  transaction 
takes  place  only  when  it  appears  desirable  to  both  parties. 
There  is  no  customary  obligation  on  either  of  the  two  to  enter 
on  the  exchange,  and  it  has  to  be  considered  advantageous  to 
both  before  it  can  be  completed.  The  acquisition  of  magic  is 


186    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

of  course  different,  because  that  must  naturally  always  be 
taught  by  the  elder  man  to  the  younger  in  his  life  time. 

The  other  type  of  transaction  belonging  to  this  class,  is  the 
payment  for  dances.  Dances  are  "  owned  "  ;  that  is,  the 
original  inventor  has  the  right  of  "  producing "  his  dance 
and  song  in  his  village  community.  If  another  village  takes  a 
fancy  to  this  song  and  dance,  it  has  to  purchase  the  right  to 
perform  it.  This  is  done  by  handing  ceremonially  to  the 
original  village  a  substantial  payment  of  food  and  valuables, 
after  which  the  dance  is  taught  to  the  new  possessors. 

In  some  rare  cases,  the  title  to  garden-lands  would  pass 
from  one  community  to  another.  For  this  again,  the 
members  and  headman  of  the  acquiring  community  would 
have  to  pay  substantially  to  those  who  hand  over  their 
rights. 

Another  transaction  which  has  to  be  mentioned  here  is  the 
hire  of  a  canoe,  where  a  temporary  transference  of  ownership 
takes  place  in  return  for  a  payment. 

The  generalisation  by  which  this  class  has  been  formed, 
although  it  does  not  run  counter  to  native  terminology  and 
ideas,  is  beyond  their  own  grasp,  and  contains  several  of  their 
sub-divisions,  differentiated  by  distinct  native  terms.  The 
name  for  the  ceremonial  purchase  of  a  task  or  for  the  transfer 
of  a  garden  plot  is  laga.  This  term  denotes  a  very  big  and 
important  transaction.  For  example,  when  a  small  pig  is 
purchased  by  food  or  minor  objects  of  value,  they  call  this 
barter  (gimwali)  but  when  a  more  valuable  pig  is  exchanged 
for  vaygu'a,  they  call  it  laga. 

The  important  conception  of  gradual  acquisition  in  advance 
of  matrilineal  inheritance,  is  designated  by  the  term  pokala, 
a  word  which  we  have  already  met  as  signifying  the  tributes 
to  the  chief.  It  is  a  homonym,  because  its  two  meanings  are 
distinct,  and  are  clearly  distinguished  by  the  natives.  There 
can  be  no  doubt  that  these  two  meanings  have  developed  out  of 
a  common  one  by  gradual  differentiation,  but  I  have  no  data 
even  to  indicate  this  linguistic  process.  At  present,  it  would  be 
incorrect  to  strain  after  any  connection  between  them,  and 
indeed  this  is  an  example  how  necessary  it  is  to  be  careful 
not  to  rely  too  much  on  native  terminology  for  purposes  of 
classification. 

The  term  for  the  hire  of  a  canoe  is  toguna  waga. 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     187 

6.  Ceremonial  barter  with  deferred  payment. — In  this  class 
we  have  to  describe  payments  which  are  ceremonially  offered, 
and  must  be  received  and  re-paid  later  on.  The  exchange  is 
based  on  a  permanent  partnership,  and  the  articles  have  to  be 
roughly  equivalent  in  value.  Remembering  the  definition  of 
the  Kula  in  Chapter  III,  it  is  easy  to  see  that  this  big,  cere- 
monial, circulating  exchange  belongs  to  this  class.  It  is  cere- 
monial barter  based  on  permanent  partnership,  where  a  gift 
offered  is  always  accepted,  and  after  a  time  has  to  be  re-paid 
by  an  equivalent  counter-gift. 

There  is  also  a  ceremonial  form  of  exchange  of  vegetable  food 
for  fish,  based  on  a  standing  partnership,  and  on  the  obligation 
to  accept  and  return  an  initial  gift.  This  is  called  wasi.  The 
members  of  an  inland  village,  where  yams  and  taro  are  plentiful 
have  partners  in  a  Lagoon  village,  where  much  fishing  is  done 
but  garden  produce  is  scarce.  Each  man  has  his  partner,  and 
at  times,  when  new  food  is  harvested  and  also  during  the  main 
harvest,  he  and  his  fellow  villagers  will  bring  a  big  quantity  of 
vegetable  food  into  the  Lagoon  village  (see  Plate  XXXVI), 
each  man  putting  his  share  before  his  partner's  house.  This  is 
an  invitation,  which  never  can  be  rejected,  to  return  the  gift 
by  its  fixed  equivalent  in  fish. 

As  soon  as  weather  and  previous  engagements  allow,  the 
fishermen  go  out  to  sea  and  notice  is  given  to  the  inland  village 
of  the  fact.  The  inlanders  arrive  on  the  beach,  awaiting  the 
fishermen,  who  come  back  in  a  body,  and  their  haul  of  fish  is 
taken  directly  from  the  canoes  and  carried  to  the  inland  village. 
Such  large  quantities  of  fish  are  always  acquired  only  in  con- 
nection with  big  distributions  of  food  (sagali).  It  is  remarkable 
that  in  the  inland  villages  these  distributions  must  be  carried 
out  in  fish,  whereas  in  the  Lagoon  villages,  fish  never  can  be 
used  for  ceremonial  purposes,  vegetables  being  the  only 
article  considered  proper.  Thus  the  motive  for  exchange 
here  is  not  to  get  food  in  order  to  satisfy  the  primary 
want  of  eating,  but  in  order  to  satisfy  the  social  need 
of  displaying  large  quantities  of  conventionally  sanctioned 
eatables.  Often  when  such  a  big  fishing  takes  place, 
great  quantities  of  fish  perish  by  becoming  rotten  before 
they  reach  the  man  for  whom  they  are  finally  destined. 
But  being  rotten  in  no  way  detracts  from  the  value  of  fish 
in  a  sagali. 


i88    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

The  equivalence  of  fish,  given  in  return  for  vegetable  food, 
is  measured  only  roughly.  A  standard  sized  bunch  of  taro,  or 
one  of  the  ordinary  baskets  of  taytu  (small  yams)  will  be  repaid 
by  a  bundle  of  fish,  some  thre£  to  five  kilograms  in  weight. 
The  equivalence  of  the  two  payments,  as  well  as  the  advantage 
obtained  by  one  party  at  least,  make  this  exchange  approach 
barter.*  But  the  element  of  trust  enters  into  it  largely;  in 
the  fact  that  the  equivalence  is  left  to  the  repayer  ;  and  again, 
the  initial  gift  which  as  a  rule  is  always  given  by  the  inlanders, 
cannot  be  refused.  And  all  these  features  distinguish  this 
exchange  from  barter. 

Similar  to  this  ceremonial  exchange  are  certain  arrange- 
ments in  which  food  is  brought  by  individuals  to  the  industrial 
villages  of  Kuboma,  and  the  natives  of  that  place  return  it  by 
manufactured  objects  when  these  are  made.  In  certain  cases 
of  production  of  vaygu'a  (valuables)  it  is  difficult  to  judge 
whether  we  have  to  do  with  the  payment  for  services  rendered 
(Class  3),  or  with  the  type  of  ceremonial  barter  belonging  to 
this  class.  There  is  hardly  any  need  to  add  that  the  two  types 
of  exchange  contained  in  this  class,  the  Kula  and  the  wasi  (fish 
barter)  are  kept  very  distinct  in  the  minds  of  the  natives. 
Indeed,  the  ceremonial  exchange  of  valuables,  the  Kula,  stands 
out  as  such  a  remarkable  form  of  trade  that  in  all  respects, 
not  only  by  the  natives,  but  also  by  ourselves,  it  must  be  put 
into  a  class  by  itself.  There  is  no  doubt,  however,  that  the 
technique  of  the  wasi  must  have  been  influenced  by  the  ideas 
and  usages  of  the  Kula,  which  is  by  far  the  more  important 
and  widespread  of  the  two.  The  natives,  when  explaining  one 
of  these  trades,  often  draw  parallels  to  the  other.  And  the 
existence  of  social  partnership,  of  ceremonial  sequence  of  gift, 
of  the  free  yet  unevadible  equivalence,  all  these  features  appear 
in  both  forms.  This  shows  that  the  natives  have  a  definite 
mental  attitude  towards  what  they  consider  an  honourable, 
ceremonial  type  of  barter.  The  rigid  exclusion  of  haggling, 
the  formalities  observed  in  handing  over  the  gift,  the  obligation 

*  This  advantage  was  probably  in  olden  days  a  mutual  one.  Nowadays, 
when  the  hshermen  can  earn  about  ten  or  twenty  times  more  by  diving  for 
pearls  than  by  performing  their  share  of  the  wast,  the  exchange  is  as  a  rule  a 
great  burden  on  them.  It  is  one  of  the  most  conspicuous  examples  of  the  ten- 
acity of  native  custom  that  in  spite  of  all  the  temptation  which  pearling  offers 
them  and  in  spite  of  the  great  pressure  exercised  upon  them  by  the  white  traders, 
the  fishermen  never  try  to  evade  a  wasi,  and  when  they  have  received  the 
inaugurating  gift,  the  first  calm  day  is  always  given  to  fishing,  and  not  to 
pearling. 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     189 

of  accepting  the  initial  gift  and  of  returning  it  later  on,  all 
these  express  this  attitude. 

7.  Trade,  Pure  and  Simple. — The  main  characteristic  of 
this  form  of  exchange  is  found  in  the  element  of  mutual 
advantage  :  each  side  acquires  what  is  needed,  and  gives  away 
a  less  useful  article.  Also  we  find  here  the  equivalence  between 
the  articles  adjusted  during  the  transaction  by  haggling  or 
bargaining. 

This  bartering,  pure  and  simple,  takes  place  mainly  between 
the  industrial  communities  of  the  interior,  which  manufacture 
on  a  large  scale  the  wooden  dishes,  combs,  lime  pots,  armlets 
and  baskets  and  the  agricultural  districts  of  Kiriwina,  the 
fishing  communities  of  the  West,  and  the  sailing  and  trading 
communities  of  the  South.  The  industrials,  who  are  regarded 
as  pariahs  and  treated  with  contumely,  are  nevertheless  allowed 
to  hawk  their  goods  throughout  the  other  districts.  When 
they  have  plenty  of  articles  on  hand,  they  go  to  the  other 
places,  and  ask  for  yams,  coco-nuts,  fish,  and  betel-nut,  and  for 
some  ornaments,  such  as  turtle  shell,  earrings  and  spondylus 
beads.  They  sit  in  groups  and  display  their  wares,  saying 
"  You  have  plenty  of  coco-nuts,  and  we  have  none.  We  have 
made  fine  wooden  dishes.  This  one  is  worth  forty  nuts,  and 
some  betel-nut,  and  some  betel  pepper.'1  The  others  then  may 
answer,  "  Oh,  no,  I  do  not  want  it.  You  ask  too  much." 
"  What  will  you  give  us  ?  "  An  offer  may  be  made,  and 
rejected  by  the  pedlars,  and  so  on,  till  a  bargain  is  struck. 

Again,  at  certain  times,  people  from  other  villages  may  need 
some  of  the  objects  made  in  Kuboma,  and  will  go  there,  and  try 
to  purchase  some  manufactured  goods.  People  of  rank  as  a 
rule  will  do  it  in  the  manner  described  in  the  previous  para- 
graph, by  giving  an  initial  gift,  and  expecting  a  repayment. 
Others  simply  go  and  barter.  As  we  saw  in  the  description  of 
the  kabigidoya,  the  Sinaketans  and  Vakutans  go  there  and 
purchase  goods  before  each  Kula  expedition  to  serve  for  the 
subsidiary  trade. 

Thus  the  conception  of  pure  barter  (gimwali)  stands  out  very 
clearly,  and  the  natives  make  a  definite  distinction  between  this 
and  other  forms  of  exchange.  Embodied  in  a  word,  this 
distinction  is  made  more  poignant  still  by  the  manner  in  which 
the  word  is  used.  When  scornfully  criticising  bad  conduct  in 
Kula,  or  an  improper  manner  of  giving  gifts,  a  native  will  say 


IQO    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

that  "  it  was  done  like  a  gimwali/'  When  asked,  about  a 
transaction,  whether  it  belongs  to  one  class  or  another,  they  will 
reply  with  an  accent  of  depreciation  "  That  was  only  a 
gimwali — (gimwali  wala  !)  "  In  the  course  of  ethnographic 
investigation,  they  give  clear  descriptions,  almost  definitions 
of  gimwali,  its  lack  of  ceremony,  the  permissibility  of  haggling, 
the  free  manner  in  which  it  can  be  done  between  any  two 
strangers.  They  state  correctly  and  clearly  its  general 
conditions,  and  they  tell  readily  which  articles  may  be 
exchanged  by  gimwali. 

Of  course  certain  characteristics  of  pure  barter,  which  we 
can  perceive  clearly  as  inherent  in  the  facts,  are  quite  beyond 
their  theoretical  grasp.  Thus  for  instance,  that  the  element 
of  mutual  advantage  is  prominent  in  gimwali ;  that  it  refers 
exclusively  to  newly  manufactured  goods,  because  second- 
hand things  are  never  gimwali,  etc.,  etc.  Such  generalisations 
the  ethnographer  has  to  make  for  himself.  Other  properties 
of  the  gimwali  embodied  in  custom  are  :  absence  of  ceremonial, 
absence  of  magic,  absence  of  special  partnership — all  these 
already  mentioned  above.  In  carrying  out  the  transaction, 
the  natives  also  behave  quite  differently  here  than  in  the  other 
transactions.  In  all  ceremonial  forms  of  give  and  take,  it  is 
considered  very  undignified  and  against  all  etiquette,  for  the 
receiver  to  show  any  interest  in  the  gift  or  any  eagerness  to 
take  it.  In  ceremonial  distributions  as  well  as  in  the  Kula,  the 
present  is  thrown  down  by  the  giver,  sometimes  actually, 
sometimes  only  given  in  an  abrupt  manner,  and  often  it  is  not 
even  picked  up  by  the  receiver,  but  by  some  insignificant  person 
in  his  following.  In  the  gimwali,  on  the  contrary,  there  is  a 
pronounced  interest  shown  in  the  exchange. 

There  is  one  instance  of  gimwali  which  deserves  special 
attention.  It  is  a  barter  of  fish  for  vegetables,  and  stands  out 
in  sharp  contrast  therefore  to  the  wasi,  the  ceremonial  fish  and 
yam  exchange.  It  is  called  vava,  and  takes  place  between 
villages  which  have  no  standing  wasi  partnership  and  there- 
fore simply  gimwali  their  produce  when  necessary  (see 
Plate  XXXVII). 

This  ends  the  short  survey  of  the  different  types  of  exchange. 
It  was  necessary  to  give  it,  even  though  in  a  condensed  form, 
in  order  to  provide  a  background  for  the  Kula.  It  gives  us 
an  idea  of  the  great  range  and  variety  of  the  material  give  and 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     191 

take  associated  with  the  Trobriand  tribal  life.  We  see  also 
that  the  rules  of  equivalence,  as  well  as  the  formalities  accom- 
panying each  transaction,  are  very  well  defined. 

VII 

It  is  easy  to  see  that  almost  all  the  categories  of  gifts,  which 
I  have  classified  according  to  economic  principles,  are  also  based 
on  some  sociological  relationship.  Thus  the  first  type  of  gifts, 
that  is,  the  free  gifts,  take  place  in  the  relationship  between 
husband  and  wife,  and  in  that  between  parents  and  children. 
Again,  the  second  class  of  gifts,  that  is,  the  obligatory  ones, 
given  without  systematic  repayment,  are  associated  with 
relationship-in-law,  mainly,  though  the  chief's  tributes  also 
belong  to  this  class. 

If  we  drew  up  a  scheme  of  sociological  relations,  each  type 
of  them  would  be  defined  by  a  special  class  of  economic  duties. 
There  would  be  some  parallelism  between  such  a  sociological 
classification  of  payments  and  presents,  and  the  one  given  above. 
But  such  parallelism  is  only  approximate.  It  will  be  therefore 
interesting  to  draw  up  a  scheme  of  exchanges,  classified  accord- 
ing to  the  social  relationship,  to  which  they  correspond.  This 
will  give  us  good  insight  into  the  economics  of  Trobriand 
sociology,  as  well  as  another  view  of  the  subject  of  payments 
and  presents. 

Going  over  the  sociological  outline  in  Chapter  II,  Divisions 
V  and  VI,  we  see  that  the  family,  the  clan  and  sub-clan, 
the  village  community,  the  district  and  the  tribe  are  the  main 
social  divisions  of  the  Trobriands.  To  these  groupings  corres- 
pond definite  bonds  of  social  relationship.  Thus,  to  the 
family,  there  correspond  no  less  than  three  distinct  types  of 
relationship,  according  to  native  ideas.  First  of  ail  there  is  the 
matrilineai  kinship  (veyola)  which  embraces  people,  who  can 
trace  common  descent  through  their  mothers.  This  is,  to  the 
natives,  the  blood  relationship,  the  identity  of  flesh,  and  the 
real  kinship.  The  marriage  relation  comprises  that  between 
husband  and  wife,  and  father  and  children.  Finally,  the 
relationship  between  the  husband  and  the  wife's  matrilineai 
kinsmen  forms  the  third  class  of  personal  ties  corresponding  to 
family.  These  three  types  of  personal  bonds  are  clearly  dis- 
tinguished in  terminology,  in  the  current  linguistic  usage,  in 
custom,  and  in  explicitly  formulated  ideas. 


192     TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

To  the  grouping  into  clans  and  sub-clans,  there  pertain  the 
ties  existing  between  clansmen  and  more  especially  between 
members  of  the  same  sub-clan,  and  on  the  other  hand,  the 
relationship  between  a  man  and  members  of  different  clans. 
Membership  in  the  same  sub-clan  is  a  kind  of  extended  kinship. 
The  relationship  to  other  clans  is  most  important,  where  it 
assumes  the  form  of  special  friendship  called  luba'i.  *  The 
grouping  into  village  communities  results  in  the  very  impor- 
tant feature  of  fellow  membership  in  the  same  village  com- 
munity. The  distinction  of  rank  associated  with  clanship,  the 
division  into  village  communities  and  districts,  result,  in  the 
manner  sketched  out  in  Chapter  II,  in  the  subordination  of 
commoners  to  chiefs,.  Finally,  the  general  fact  of  membership 
in  the  tribe  creates  the  bonds  which  unite  every  tribesman 
with  another  and  which  in  olden  days  allowed  of  a  free 
though  not  unlimited  intercourse,  and  therefore  of  com- 
mercial relations.  We  have,  therefore,  eight  types  of 
personal  relationship  to  distinguish.  In  the  following 
table  we  see  them  enumerated  with  a  short  survey  of  their 
economic  characteristics. 

1.  Matrilineal   kinship. — The    underlying    idea    that    this 
means  identity  of  blood   and   of  substance   is   by  no  means 
forcibly  expressed  on  its  economic  side.     The  right  of  inheri- 
tance, the  common  participation  in  certain  titles  of  ownership, 
and  a  limited  right   to  use  one   another's  implements   and 
objects  of  daily  use  are  often  restricted  in  practice  by  private 
jealousies  and  animosities.     In  economic  gifts  more  especially, 
we  find  here  the  remarkable  custom  of  purchasing  during  life- 
time, by  instalments,  the  titles  to  garden  plots  and  trees  and 
the  knowledge   of    magic,  which  by  right  ought  to  pass  at 
death   from   the   older    to    the  younger  generation  of  matri- 
lineal  kinsmen.      The  economic  identity  of  matrilineal  kins- 
men  comes   into   prominence    at    the    tribal   distributions — 
sagali — where  all  of  them  have  to  share  in  the  responsibilities 
of  providing  food. 

2.  Marriage  ties.—  (Husband  and  wife  ;    and  derived  from 
that,  father  and  children).     It  is  enough  to  tabulate  this  type 
of  relationship  here,  and  to  remind  the  reader    that    it    is 
characterised  by  free  gifts,  as  has  been  minutely  described  in 
the  foregoing  classification  of  gifts,  under  (i). 


TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS     193 

3.  Relationship -in-law. — These   ties  are  in  their  economic 
aspect  not  reciprocal  or  symmetrical.     That  is,  one  side  in  it, 
the   husband   of   the   woman,   is   the   economically  favoured 
recipient,  while  the  wife's  brothers  receive  from  him  gifts  of 
smaller  value  in  the  aggregate.     As  we  know,  this  relationship 
is  economically  denned  by  the  regular  and  substantial  harvest 
gifts,  by  which  the  husband's  storehouse  is  filled  every  year  by 
his  wife's  brothers.     They  also  have  to  perform  certain  services 
for  him.     For  all  this,  they  receive  a  gift  of  vaygu'a  (valuables) 
from  time  to  time,  and  some  food  in  payment  for  services 
rendered. 

4.  Clanship. — The    main    economic   identification   of   this 
group  takes  place  during  the  sagali,  although  the  responsi- 
bility for  the  food  rests  only  with  those  actually  related  by 
blood  with  the  deceased  man.     All  the  members  of  the  sub- 
clan,  and  to  a  smaller  extent  members  of  the  same  clan  within 
a  village  community,  have  to  contribute  by  small  presents 
given  to  the  organisers  of  the  sagali. 

5  The  Relationship  of  Personal  Friendship. — Two  men  thus 
bound  as  a  rule  will  carry  on  Kula  between  themselves,  and,  if 
they  belong  to  an  inland  and  Lagoon  village  respectively,  they 
will  be  partners  in  the  exchange  of  fish  and  vegetables  (wasi). 

6.  Fellow-citizenship  in  a  Village  Community. — There  are 
many  types  of  presents  given  by  one  community  to  another. 
And,  economically,  the  bonds  of  fellow-citizenship  mean  the 
obligation  to  contribute  one's  share  to  such  a  present.     Again, 
at  the  mortuary  divisions,  sagali,  the  fellow-villagers  of  clans, 
differing  from  the  deceased  man's,  receive  a  series  of  presents 
for  the  performance  of  mortuary  duties. 

7.  Relationship    between    Chiefs     and     Commoners. — The 
tributes  and  services  given  to  a  chief  by  his  vassals  on  the  one 
hand,  and  the  small  but  frequent  gifts  which  he  gives  them, 
and  the  big  and  important  contribution  which  he  makes  to  all 
tribal  enterprises  are  characteristic  of  this  relationship. 

8.  Relationship  between  any  two  tribesmen. — This  is  character- 
ised by  payments  and  presents,  by  occasional  trade  between 
two  individuals,  and  by  the  sporadic  free  gifts  of  tobacco  or 
betel-nut  which  no  man  would  refuse  to  another  unless  they 
were  on  terms  of  hostility. 


194    TRIBAL  ECONOMICS  IN  THE  TROBRIANDS 

With  this,  the  survey  of  gifts  and  presents  is  finished.  The 
general  importance  of  give  and  take  to  the  social  fabric  of 
Boy o wan  society,  the  great  amount  of  distinctions  and  sub- 
divisions of  the  various  gifts  can  leave  no  doubt  as  to  the 
paramount  role  which  economic  acts  and  motives  play  in  the 
life  of  these  natives. 


CHAPTER   VII 
THE  DEPARTURE  OF  AN  OVERSEAS  EXPEDITION 

We  have  brought  the  Kula  narrative  to  the  point  where  all 
the  preparations  have  been  made,  the  canoe  is  ready,  its 
ceremonial  launching  and  presentation  have  taken  place,  and 
the  goods  for  the  subsidiary  trade  have  been  collected.  It 
remains  only  to  load  the  canoes  and  to  set  sail.  So  far,  in 
describing  the  construction,  the  tasasoria  and  kabigidoya,  we 
spoke  of  the  Trobrianders  in  general.  Now  we  shall  have  to 
confine  ourselves  to  one  district,  the  southern  part  of  the  Island, 
and  we  shall  follow  a  Kula  expedition  from  Sinaketa  to  Dobu. 
For  there  are  some  differences  between  the  various  districts 
and  each  one  must  be  treated  separately.  What  is  said  of 
Sinaketa,  however,  will  hold  good  so  far  as  the  other  southern 
community,  that  of  Vakuta,  is  concerned.  The  scene,  there- 
fore, of  all  that  is  described  in  the  following  two  chapters  will 
be  set  in  one  spot,  that  is,  the  group  of  some  eight  component 
villages  lying  on  the  flat,  muddy  shore  of  the  Trobriand 
Lagoon,  within  about  a  stone's  throw  of  one  another.  There 
is  a  short,  sandy  beach  under  a  fringe  of  palm  trees,  and  from 
there  we  can  take  a  comprehensive  view  of  the  Lagoon,  the 
wide  semi-circle  of  its  shore  edged  with  the  bright  green  of 
mangroves,  backed  by  the  high  jungle  on  the  raised  coral  ridge 
of  the  Raybwag.  A  few  small,  flat  islands  on  the  horizon  just 
faintly  thicken  its  line,  and  on  a  clear  day  the  mountains  of  the 
d'Entrecasteaux  are  visible  as  blue  shadows  in  the  far  distance. 
From  the  beach,  we  step  directly  into  one  of  the  villages,  a 
row  of  houses  faced  by  another  of  yam-stores.  Through  this, 
leaving  on  our  right  a  circular  village,  and  passing  through 
some  empty  spaces  with  groves  of  betel  and  coco-nut  palms,  we 
come  to  the  main  component  village  of  Sinaketa,  to  Kasiyetana. 
There,  overtopping  the  elegant  native  huts,  stands  an  enormous 
corrugated  iron  shed,  built  on  piles,  but  with  the  space  between 


196  DEPARTURE  OVERSEAS 

the  floor  and  the  ground  filled  up  carefully  with  white  coral 
stones.  This  monument  testifies  both  to  native  vanity  and  to 
the  strength  of  their  superstitions — vanity  in  aping  the  white 
man's  habit  of  raising  the  house,  and  native  belief  in  the  fear 
of  the  bwaga'u  (sorcerer),  whose  most  powerful  sorcery  is 
applied  by  burning  magical  herbs,  and  could  not  be  warded  off, 
were  he  able  to  creep  under  the  house.  It  may  be  added  that 
even  the  missionary  teachers,  natives  of  the  Trobriands,  always 
put  a  solid  mass  of  stones  to  fill  the  space  beneath  their  houses. 
To'udawada,  the  chief  of  Kasiyetana,  is,  by  the  way,  the  only 
man  in  Boyowa  who  has  a  corrugated  iron  house,  and  in  fact 
in  the  whole  of  the  island  there  are  not  more  than  a  dozen 
houses  which  are  not  built  exactly  according  to  the  traditional 
pattern.  To'udawada  is  also  the  only  native  whom  I  ever  saw 
wearing  a  sun-helmet  ;  otherwise  he  is  a  decent  fellow 
(physically  quite  pleasant  looking),  tall,  with  a  broad,  intelli- 
gent face.  Opposite  his  iron  shanty  are  the  fine  native  huts  of 
his  four  wives. 

Walking  towards  the  North,  over  the  black  soil  here  and 
there  pierced  by  coral,  among  tall  trees  and  bits  of  jungle, 
fields  and  gardens,  we  come  to  Kanubayne,  the  village  of 
Kouta'uya,  the  second  most  important  chief  in  Sinaketa. 
Very  likely  we  shall  see  him  sitting  on  the  platform  of  his  hut 
or  yam-house,  a  shrivelled  up,  toothless  old  man,  wearing  a  big 
native  wig.  He,  as  well  as  To'udawada,  belongs  to  the  highest 
ranks  of  chieftainship,  and  they  both  consider  themselves 
the  equals  of  the  chiefs  of  Kiriwina.  But  the  power  of  each  one 
is  limited  to  his  small,  component  village,  and  neither  in  cere- 
monial nor  in  wealth  did  they,  at  least  in  olden  days,  approach 
their  kinsmen  in  the  North.  There  is  still  another  chief  of 
the  same  rank  in  Sinaketa,  who  governs  the  small  village  of 
Oraywota.  This  is  Sinakadi,  a  puffed  up,  unhealthy  looking, 
bald  and  toothless  old  man,  and  a  really  contemptible  and 
crooked  character,  despised  by  black  and  white  alike.  He  has 
a  well-established  reputation  of  boarding  white  men's  boats  as 
soon  as  they  arrive,  with  one  or  two  of  his  young  wives  in  the 
canoe,  and  of  returning  soon  after,  alone,  but  with  plenty  of 
tobacco  and  good  merchandise.  Lax  as  is  the  Trobriander's 
sense  of  honour  and  morality  in  such  matters,  this  is  too 
much  even  for  them,  and  Sinakadi  is  accordingly  not  respected 
in  his  village. 


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DEPARTURE  OVERSEAS  197 

The  rest  of  the  villages  are  ruled  by  headmen  of  inferior 
rank,  but  of  not  much  less  importance  and  power  than  the 
main  chiefs.  One  of  them,  a  queer  old  man,  spare  and  lame 
but  with  an  extremely  dignified  and  deliberate  manner,  called 
Layseta,  is  renowned  for  his  extensive  knowledge  of  all  sorts 
of  magic,  and  for  his  long  sojourns  in  foreign  countries,  such 
as  the  Amphletts  and  Dobu.  We  shall  meet  some  of  these 
chiefs  later  on  in  our  wanderings.  Having  described  the 
villages  and  headmen  of  Sinaketa  let  us  return  to  our  narrative. 

A  few  days  before  the  appointed  date  of  the  departure  of  the 
Kula  expedition  there  is  a  great  stir  in  the  villages.  Visiting 
parties  arrive  from  the  neighbourhood,  bringing  gifts  mostly  of 
food,  to  serve  as  provisions  for  the  journey.  They  sit  in 
front  of  the  huts,  talking  and  commenting,  while  the  local 
people  go  about  their  business.  In  the  evenings,  long  con- 
ferences are  held  over  the  fires,  and  late  hours  are  kept.  The 
preparation  of  food  is  mainly  woman's  work,  whereas  the  men 
put  the  finishing  touches  to  the  canoes,  and  perform  their 
magic. 

Sociologically  the  group  of  the  departing  differentiates 
itself  of  course  from  those  who  remain.  But  even  within  that 
group  a  further  differentiation  takes  place,  brought  about  by 
their  respective  functions  in  the  Kula.  First  of  all  there  are 
the  masters  of  the  canoe,  the  toliwaga,  who  will  play  quite  a 
definite  part  for  the  next  few  weeks.  On  each  of  them  fall 
with  greater  stringency  the  taboos,  whether  those  that  have 
to  be  kept  in  Sinaketa  or  in  Dobu.  Each  has  to  perform  the 
magic  and  act  in  ceremonies.  Each  will  also  enjoy  the  main 
honours  and  privileges  of  the  Kula.  The  members  of  the  crew, 
the  usagelu,  some  four  to  six  men  in  each  canoe,  form  another 
group.  They  sail  the  craft,  perform  certain  magical  rites,  and 
as  a  rule  do  the  Kula  each  on  his  own  account.  A  couple  of 
younger  men  in  each  canoe,  who  do  not  yet  kula,  but  who 
help  in  the  work  of  sailing,  form  another  class,  and  are  called 
silasila.  Here  and  there  a  small  boy  will  go  with  his  father  on 
a  Kula  expedition — such  are  called  dodo'u — and  makes  himself 
useful  by  blowing  the  conch  shell.  Thus  the  whole  fleet 
consists  of  four  classes,  that  of  the  toliwaga,  the  usagelu,  the 
helpers  and  the  children.  From  Sinaketa,  women,  whether 
married  or  unmarried,  never  go  on  overseas  expeditions,  though 
a  different  custom  prevails  in  the  eastern  part  of  the  Trobriands. 


198  DEPARTURE  OVERSEAS 

Each  toliwaga  has  to  give  a  payment  in  food  to  his  usagelu,  and 
this  is  done  in  the  form  of  a  small  ceremony  of  distribution  of 
food  called  mwalolo,  and  held  after  the  return  from  the  expe- 
dition, in  the  central  place  of  the  village. 

A  few  days  before  the  sailing,  the  toliwaga  starts  his  series 
of  magical  rites  and  begins  to  keep  his  taboos,  the  women  busy 
themselves  with  the  final  preparation  of  the  food,  and  the  men 
trim  the  waga  (canoe)  for  the  imminent,  long  journey. 

The  taboo  of  the  toliwaga  refers  to  his  sexual  life.  During 
the  last  two  nights,  he  has  in  any  case  to  be  up  late  in  con- 
nection with  his  magical  performances,  and  with  the  visits  of 
his  friends  and  relatives  from  other  villages,  who  bring  pro- 
visions for  the  voyage,  presents  in  trade  goods,  and  who  chat 
about  the  forthcoming  expedition.  But  he  has  also  to  keep 
vigil  far  into  the  night  as  a  customary  injunction,  and  he  has  to 
sleep  alone,  though  his  wife  may  sleep  in  the  same  house. 

The  preparations  of  the  canoe  are  begun  by  covering  it 
with  plaited  mats  called  yawarapu.  They  are  put  on  the 
platform,  thus  making  it  convenient  for  walking,  sitting  and 
spreading  about  of  small  objects.  This,  the  first  act  of  canoe 
trimming,  is  associated  with  a  magical  rite.  The  plaited  leaves 
are  chanted  over  by  the  toliwaga  on  the  shore  as  they  are  put  on 
the  canoe.  Or,  in  a  different  system  of  Kula  magic  the 
toliwaga  medicates  some  ginger  root  and  spits  it  on  the  mats  in 
his  hut.  This  is  a  specimen  of  the  magical  formula  which  would 
be  used  in  such  a  rite  : 

YAWARAPU  SPELL. 

"  Betel-nut,  betel-nut,  female  betel-nut ;  betel-nut, 
betel-nut,  male  betel-nut ;  betel-nut  of  the  ceremonial 
spitting  !  " 

"  The  chiefs'  comrades  ;  the  chiefs  and  their  followers  ; 
their  sun,  the  afternoon  sun  ;  their  pig,  a  small  pig.  One 
only  is  my  day  " — here  the  reciter  utters  his  own  name — 
"  their  dawn,  their  morning." 

This  is  the  exordium  of  the  spell.  Then  follows  the 
main  body.  The  two  words  boraytupa  and  badederuma, 
coupled  together,  are  repeated  with  a  string  of  other  words. 
The  first  word  of  the  couple  means,  freely  translated, 
'  quick  sailing,'  and  the  second  one,  '  abundant  haul/ 
The  string  of  words  which  are  in  succession  tacked  on  to 
this  couple  describe  various  forms  of  Kula  necklaces. 


DEPARTURE  OVERSEAS  199 

The  necklaces  of  different  length  and  of  different  finish 
have  each  their  own  class  names,  of  which  there  are  about 
a  dozen.  After  that,  a  list  of  words,  referring  to  the 
human  head,  are  recited  : 

"  My  head,  my  nose,  my  occiput,  my  tongue,  my 
throat,  my  larynx,  etc.,  etc."  Finally,  the  various 
objects  carried  on  a  Kula  expedition  are  mentioned.  The 
goods  to  be  given  (pari) ;  a  ritually  wrapped  up  bundle 
(lilava)  ;  the  personal  basket  ;  the  sleeping  mat  ;  big 
baskets  ;  the  lime  stick  ;  the  lime  pot  and  comb  are  uttered 
one  after  the  other. 

Finally  the  magician  recites  the  end  part  of  the  spell ; 
"  I  shall  kick  the  mountain,  the  mountain  moves,  the 
mountain  tumbles  down,  the  mountain  starts  on  its 
ceremonial  activities,  the  mountain  acclaims,  the  mountain 
falls  down,  the  mountain  lies  prostrate  !  My  spell  shall  go 
to  the  top  of  Dobu  Mountain,  my  spell  will  penetrate  the 
inside  of  my  canoe.  The  body  of  my  canoe  will  sink  ; 
the  float  of  my  canoe  will  get  under  water.  My  fame  is 
like  thunder,  my  treading  is  like  the  roar  of  the  flying 
witches." 

The  first  part  of  this  spell  contains  a  reference  to  the 
betel-nut,  this  being  one  of  the  things  which  the  natives  expect 
to  receive  in  the  Kula.  On  the  other  hand,  it  is  one  of  the 
substances  which  the  natives  charm  over  and  give  to  the 
partner  to  induce  him  to  kula  with  them.  To  which  of  these 
two  acts  the  spell  refers,  it  is  impossible  to  decide,  nor  can  the 
natives  tell  it.  The  part  in  which  he  extols  his  speed  and 
success  are  typical  of  the  magic  formulae,  and  can  be  found  in 
many  others. 

The  main  part  of  the  spell  is  as  usual  much  easier  to  inter- 
pret. It  implies,  broadly  speaking,  the  declaration  :  "  I  shall 
speed  and  be  successful  with  regard  to  the  various  forms  of 
vaygu'a  ;  I  shall  speed  and  be  successful  with  my  head,  with  my 
speech,  with  my  appearance  ;  in  all  my  trade  goods  and 
personal  belongings."  The  final  part  of  the  spell  describes  the 
impression  which  is  to  be  made  by  the  man's  magic  upon  '  the 
mountain/  which  stands  here  for  the  district  of  Dobu  -and  its 
inhabitants.  In  fact,  the  districts  in  the  d'Entrecasteaux  to 
which  they  are  sailing  are  always  called  koya  (mountain).  The 
exaggerations,  the  metaphors,  and  the  implicit  insistence  on  the 
power  of  the  spell  are  very  characteristic  of  all  magical  spells. 


200  DEPARTURE  OVERSEAS 

The  next  day,  or  the  day  after,  as  there  is  often  a  delay  in 
starting,  a  pig  or  two  are  given  by  the  master  of  the  expedition 
to  all  the  participants.  In  the  evening  of  that  day,  the  owner 
of  each  canoe  goes  into  the  garden,  and  finds  an  aromatic  mint 
plant  (sulumwoya).  Taking  a  sprig  of  it  into  his  hand,  he  moves 
it  to  and  fro,  uttering  a  spell,  and  then  he  plucks  it.  ^This  is 
the  spell : 

SULUMWOYA  SPELL.* 

"  Who  cuts  the  sulumwoya  of  Laba'i  ?  I,  Kwoyregu, 
with  my  father,  we  cut  the  sulumwoya  of  Laba'i  !  The 
roaring  sulumwoya,  it  roars  ;  the  quaking  sulumwoya,  it 
quakes  ;  the  soughing  sulumwoya,  it  soughs ;  the  boiling 
sulumwoya,  it  boils  " 

"  My  sulumwoya,  it  boils,  my  lime  spoon,  it  boils,  my 
lime  pot,  it  boils,  my  comb  .  .  .  my  basket  .  .  . 
my  small  basket  .  .  .  my  mat  .  .  .  my  lilava 
bundle  .  ,  .  my  presentation  goods  (pan]  . 
And  with  each  of  these  terms,  the  word  '  boils  '  or  '  foams 
up  '  is  repeated  often  several  times.  After  that,  the  same 
verb  '  it  boils  '  is  repeated  with  all  parts  of  the  head,  as 
in  the  previously  quoted  formula. 

The  last  part  runs  thus  :  "  Recently  deceased  spirit  of 
my  maternal  uncle  Mwoyalova,  breathe  thy  spell  over  the 
head  of  Monikiniki.  Breathe  the  spell  upon  the  head  of 
my  light  canoe.  I  shall  kick  the  mountain  ;  the  mountain 
tilts  over ;  the  mountain  subsides  ;  the  mountain  opens 
up ;  the  mountain  jubilates  ;  it  topples  over.  I  shall 
kula  so  as  to  make  my  canoe  sink.  I  shall  kula  so  as  to 
make  my  outrigger  go  under.  My  fame  is  like  thunder, 
my  treading  is  like  the  roar  of  the  flying  witdies." 

The  exordium  of  this  spell  contains  some  mythical  refer- 
ences, of  which,  however,  my  informants  could  give  me  only 
confused  explanations.  But  it  is  clear  in  so  far  as  it  refers 
directly  to  the  magical  mint,  and  describes  its  magical 
efficiency.  In  the  second  part,  there  is  again  a  list  of  words 
referring  to  objects  used  in  the  Kula,  and  to  the  personal 
appearance  and  persuasiveness  of  the  magician.  The  verb 
with  which  they  are  repeated  refers  to  the  boiling  of  the  mint 
and  coco-nut  oil  which  I  shall  presently  have  to  mention, 

*  Compare  the  linguistic  analysis  of  the  original  text  of  this  spell,  given 
in  Chapter  XVIH. 


DEPARTURE  OVERSEAS  201 

and  it  indicates  that  the  magical  properties  of  the  mint  are 
imparted  to  the  toliwaga  and  his  goods.  In  the  last  part, 
the  magician  invokes  the  spirit  of  his  real  maternal  kinsman, 
from  whom  he  obtained  this  spell,  and  asks  him  to  impart 
magical  virtue  to  his  canoe.  The  mythological  name, 
Monikiniki,  with  which  there  is  no  myth  connected,  except  the 
tradition  that  he  was  the  original  owner  of  all  these  spells,  stands 
here  as  synonym  of  the  canoe.  At  the  very  end  in  the  dogina, 
which  contains  several  expressions  identical  with  those  in  the 
end  part  of  the  Yawarapu  spell,  we  have  another  example  of 
the  strongly  exaggerated  language  so  often  used  in  magic. 

After  having  thus  ritually  plucked  the  mint  plant,  the 
magician  brings  it  home.  There  he  finds  one  of  his  usagelu 
(members  of  crew)  who  helps  him  by  boiling  some  coco-nut  oil 
(bulami)  in  a  small  native  clay  pot.  Into  the  boiling  oil  the  mint 
plant  is  put,  and,  while  it  boils,  a  magical  formula  is  uttered 
over  it. 

KAYMWALOYO  SPELL. 

"  No  betel-nut,  no  doga  (ornament  of  circular  boar's 
tusk),  no  betel- pod  !  My  power  to  change  his  mind  ; 
my  mwasila  magic,  my  mwase,  mwasare,  mwaserewai." 
This  last  sentence  contains  a  play  on  words  very  character- 
istic of  Kiriwinian  magic.  It  is  difficult  to  interpret  the 
opening  sentence.  Probably  it  means  something  like 
this  :  "No  betel-nut  or  pod,  no  gift  of  a  doga,  can  be  as 
strong  as  my  mwasila  and  its  power  of  changing  my 
partner's  mind  in  my  favour  !  " 

Now  comes  the  main  part  of  the  spell :  "  There  is  one 
sulumwoya  (mint)  of  mine,  a  sulumwoya  of  Laba'i  which  I 
shall  place  on  top  of  Gumasila." 

"  Thus  shall  I  make  a  quick  Kula  on  top  of  Gumasila  ; 
thus  shall  I  hide  away  my  Kula  on  top  of  Gumasila ;  thus 
shall  I  rob  my  Kula  on  top  of  Gumasila  ;  thus  shall  I 
forage  my  Kula  on  top  of  Gumasila  ;  thus  shall  I  steal  my 
Kula  on  top  of  Gumasila." 

These  last  paragraphs  are  repeated  several  times, 
inserting  instead  of  the  name  of  the  island  of  Gumasila 
the  following  ones :  Kuyawaywo,  Domdom,  Tewara, 
Siyawawa,  Sanaroa,  Tu'utauna,  Kamsareta,  Gorebubu. 
All  these  are  the  successive  names  of  places  in  which  Kula 
is  made.  In  this  long  spell,  the  magician  follows  the 
course  of  a  Kula  expedition,  enumerating  its  most 


202  DEPARTURE  OVERSEAS 

conspicuous  landmarks.  The  last  part  in  this  formula  is 
identical  with  the  last  part  of  the  Yawarapu  Spell, 
previously  quoted  :  "  I  shall  kick  the  mountain,  etc." 

After  the  recital  of  this  spell  over  the  oil  and  mint,  the 
magician  takes  these  substances,  and  places  them  in  a  receptacle 
made  of  banana  leaf  toughened  by  grilling.  Nowadays  a  glass 
bottle  is  sometimes  used  instead.  The  receptacle  is  then 
attached  to  a  stick  thrast  through  the  prow  boards  of  the 
canoe  and  protruding  slantwise  over  the  nose.  As  we  shall  see 
later  on,  the  aromatic  oil  will  be  used  in  anointing  some  objects 
on  arrival  at  Dobu. 

With  this,  however,  the  series  of  magical  rites  is  not 
finished.  The  next  day,  early  in  the  morning,  the  ritual 
bundle  of  representative  trade  goods,  called  lilava,  is  made  up 
with  the  recital  of  a  magical  spell.  A  few  objects  of  trade,  a 
plaited  armlet,  a  comb,  a  lime  pot,  a  bundle  of  betel-nut  are 
placed  on  a  clean,  new  mat,  and  into  the  folded  mat  the  spell 
is  recited.  Then  the  mat  is  rolled  up,  and  over  it  another 
mat  is  placed,  and  one  or  two  may  be  wrapped  round  ;  thus  it 
contains,  hermetically  sealed,  the  magical  virtue  of  the  spell. 
This  bundle  is  placed  afterwards  in  a  special  spot  in  the  centre 
of  the  canoe,  and  is  not  opened  till  the  expedition  arrives  in 
Dobu.  There  is  a  belief  that  a  magical  portent  (kariyala}  is 
associated  with  it.  A  gentle  rain,  accompanied  by  thunder 
and  lightning,  sets  in  whenever  the  lilava  is  opened.  A 
sceptical  European  might  add,  that  in  the  monsoon  season  it 
almost  invariably  rains  on  any  afternoon,  with  the  accompani- 
ment of  thunder,  at  the  foot  or  on  the  slopes  of  such  high  hills 
as  are  found  in  the  d'Entrecasteaux  group.  Of  course  when,  in 
spite  of  that,  a  kariyala  does  not  make  its  appearance,  we  all 
know  something  has  been  amiss  in  the  performance  of  the 
magical  rite  over  the  lilava  !  This  is  the  spell  recited  over  the 
tabooed  lilava  bundle. 

LILAVA  SPELL. 

"  I  skirt  the  shore  of  the  beach  of  Kaurakoma  ;  the 
beach  of  Kayli,  the  Kayli  of  Muyuwa."  I  cannot  add  any 
explanation  which  would  make  this  phrase  clearer.  It 
obviously  contains  some  mythological  references  to  which 
I  have  no  key.  The  spell  runs  on  : 


DEPARTURE  OVERSEAS  203 

"  I  shall  act  magically  on  my  mountain.  .  .  Where 
shall  I  lie  ?  I  shall  lie  in  Legumatabu  ;  I  shall  dream, 
I  shall  have  dream  visions  ;  rain  will  come  as  my  magical 
portent.  .  .  his  mind  is  on  the  alert ;  he  lies  not,  he 
sits  not,  he  stands  up  and  trembles,  he  stands  up  and  is 
agitated  ;  the  renown  of  Kewara  is  small,  my  own 
renown  flares  up. 

This  whole  period  is  repeated  over  and  over  again,  each 
time  the  name  of  another  place  being  inserted  instead  of 
that  of  Legumatabu.  Legumatabu  is  a  small  coral  island 
some  two  hundred  yards  long  and  a  hundred  yards  wide, 
with  a  few  pandanus  trees  growing  on  it,  wild  fowl  and 
turtle  laying  their  eggs  in  its  sand.  In  this  island,  half 
way  between  Sinaketa  and  the  Amphletts,  the  Sinaketan 
sailors  often  spend  a  night  or  two,  if  overtaken  by  bad 
weather  or  contrary  winds. 

This  period  contains  first  a  direct  allusion  to  the 
magical  portent  of  the  lilava.  In  its  second  half  it 
describes  the  state  of  agitation  of  the  Dobuan  partner 
under  the  influence  of  this  magic,  a  state  of  agitation  which 
will  prompt  him  to  be  generous  in  the  Kula.  I  do  not 
know  whether  the  word  Kewara  is  a  proper  name  or  what 
else  it  may  mean,  but  the  phrase  contains  a  boast  of  the 
magician's  own  renown,  very  typical  of  magical  formulae. 

The  localities  mentioned  instead  of  Legumatabu  in  the 
successive  repetitions  of  the  period  are  :  Yakum,  another 
small  coral  island,  Urasi,  the  Dobuan  name  for  Gumasila, 
Tewara,  Sanaro'a,  and  Tu'utauna,  all  localities  known 
to  us  already  from  our  description  of  Dobu. 

This  is  a  very  long  spell.  After  the  recital,  and  a  very 
lengthy  one,  of  the  last  period  with  its  variants,  yet 
another  change  is  introduced  into  it.  Instead  of  the  first 
phrase  "  where  shall  I  lie  ?  etc."  the  new  form  runs  "Where 
does  the  rainbow  stand  up  ?  It  stands  up  on  the  top  of 
Koyatabu/'  and  after  this  the  rest  of  the  period  is 
repeated  :  "  I  shall  dream,  I  shall  have  dream  visions, 
etc."  This  new  form  is  again  varied  by  uttering  instead 
of  Koyatabu,  Kamsareta,  Koyava'u,  and  Gorebubu.* 
This  again  carries  us  through  the  landscape  ;  but  here, 
instead  of  the  sleeping  places  we  follow  the  beacons  of  the 
sailing  expedition  by  mentioning  the  tops  of  the  high 
mountains.  The  end  part  of  this  spell  is  again  identical 
with  that  of  the  Yawarapu  Spell. 

*  Koyatabu — the  mountain  on  the  North  shore  of  Fergusson  ,  Kamsareta, 
— the  highest  hill  on  Domdom, — in  the  Amphletts  ;  Koyava'u— the  moun- 
tain opposite  Dobu  island,  on  the  North  shore  of  Dawson  Straits  ;  Gorebubu 
— the  volcano  on  Dobu  island. 


204  DEPARTURE  OVERSEAS 

This  magical  rite  takes  place  on  the  morning  of  the  last  day. 
Immediately  after  the  recital  of  the  spell,  and  the  rolling  up  of 
the  lilava,  it  is  carried  to  the  canoe,  and  put  into  its  place  of 
honour.  By  that  time  the  usagelu  (members  of  the  crew) 
have  already  made  the  canoe  ready  for  sailing. 

Each  masawa  canoe  is  divided  into  ten,  eleven,  or  twelve 
compartments  by  the  stout,  horizontal  poles  called  riu* which 
join  the  body  of  the  canoe  with  the  outrigger.  Such  a  com- 
partment is  called  liku,  and  each  liku  has  its  name  and  its 
function.  Starting  from  the  end  of  the  canoe,  the  first  liku, 
which,  as  is  easily  seen,  is  both  narrow  and  shallow,  is  called 
ogugwau,  '  in  the  mist/  and  this  is  the  proper  place  for  the 
conch-shell.  Small  boys  will  sit  there  and  blow  the  conch- 
shell  on  ceremonial  occasions. 

The  next  compartment  is  called  likumakava,  and  there  some 
of  the  food  is  stowed  away.  The  third  division  is  called 
kayliku  and  water-bottles  made  of  coco-nut  shells  have  their 
traditional  place  in  it.  The  fourth  liku,  called  likuguya'u,  is, 
as  its  name  indicates,  the  place  for  the  guya'u  or  chief,  which,  it 
may  be  added,  is  unofficially  used  as  a  courtesy  title  for  any 
headman,  or  man  of  importance.  The  baler,  yalumila,  always 
remains  in  this  compartment.  Then  follow  the  central  com- 
partments, called  gebobo,  one,  two  or  three,  according  to  the 
size  of  the  canoe.  This  is  the  place  where  the  lilava  is  put  on  the 
platform,  and  where  are  placed  the  best  food,  not  to  be  eaten  till 
the  arrival  in  Dobu,  and  all  valuable  trade  articles.  After  that 
central  division,  the  same  divisions,  as  in  the  first  part  are 
met  in  inverse  order  (see  Plate  XXXIX). 

When  the  canoe  is  going  to  carry  much  cargo,  as  is  always 
the  case  on  an  expedition  to  Dobu,  a  square  space  is  fenced 
round  corresponding  to  the  gebobo  part  of  the  canoe.  A  big  sort 
of  square  hen-coop,  or  cage,  is  thus  erected  in  the  middle  of  the 
canoe,  and  this  is  full  of  bundles  wrapped  up  in  mats,  and  at 
times  when  the  canoe  is  not  travelling,  it  is  usually  covered  over 
with  a  sail.  In  the  bottom  of  the  canoe  a  floor  is  made  by  a 
framework  of  sticks.  On  this,  people  can  walk  and  things 
can  rest,  while  the  bilgewater  flows  underneath,  and  is  baled 
out  from  time  to  time.  On  this  framework,  in  the  gebobo,  four 
coco-nuts  are  placed,  each  in  the  corner  of  the  square,  while  a 
spell  is  recited  over  them.  It  is  after  that,  that  the  lilava  and 
the  choice  food,  and  the  rest  of  the  trade  are  stowed  away. 


DEPARTURE  OVERSEAS  205 

The  following  spell  belongs  to  the  class  which  is  recited  over  the 
four  coco-nuts. 

GEBOBO  SPELL. 

"  My  father,  my  mother  .  .  .  Kula,  mwasila." 
This  short  exordium,  running  in  the  compressed  style 
proper  to  magical  beginnings,  is  rather  enigmatic,  except 
for  the  mention  of  the  Kula  and  mwasila,  which  explain 
themselves.  The  second  part  is  less  obscure  : 

"  I  shall  fill  my  canoe  with  bagido'u,  I  shall  fill  my  canoe 
with  bagiriku,  I  shall  fill  my  canoe  with  bagidudu,  etc." 
All  the  specific  names  of  the  necklaces  are  enumerated. 
The  last  part  runs  as  follows  :  "  I  shall  anchor  in  the  open 
sea,  and  my  renown  will  go  to  the  Lagoon,  I  shall  anchor 
in  the  Lagoon,  and  my  renown  will  go  to  the  open  sea. 
My  companions  will  be  on  the  open  sea  and  on  the  Lagoon. 
My  renown  is  like  thunder,  my  treading  is  like  earthquake." 

This  last  part  is  similar  to  several  of  the  other  formula*. 
This  rite  is  obviously  a  Kula  rite,  judging  from  the  spell,  but 
the  natives  maintain  that  its  special  virtue  is  to  make  the 
food  stuffs,  loaded  into  the  canoe,  last  longer.  After  this  rite 
is  over,  the  loading  is  done  quickly,  the  lilava  is  put  into  its  place 
of  honour,  and  with  it  the  best  food  to  be  eaten  in  Dobu.  Some 
other  choice  food  to  serve  as  pokala  (offerings)  is  also  put  in  the 
gebobo,  to  be  offered  to  overseas  partners  ;  on  it,  the  rest  of 
the  trade,  called  pari,  is  piled,  and  right  on  top  of  all  are  the 
personal  belongings  of  the  usagelu  and  the  toliwaga  in  their 
respective  baskets,  shaped  like  travelling  bags. 

The  people  from  the  inland  villages,  kulila'odila,  as  they  are 
called,  are  assembled  on  the  beach.  With  them  stand  the 
women,  the  children,  the  old  men,  and  the  few  people  left  to 
guard  the  village.  The  master  of  the  fleet  gets  up  and  addresses 
the  crowd  on  the  shore,  more  or  less  in  these  words  : 

"  Women,  we  others  sail ;  you  remain  in  the  village  and 
look  after  the  gardens  and  the  houses  ;  you  must  keep 
chaste.  When  you  get  into  the  bush  to  get  wood,  may  not 
one  of  you  lag  behind.  When  you  go  to  the  gardens  to  do 
work  keep  together.  Return  together  with  your  younger 
sisters." 

He  also  admonishes  the  people  from  the  other  villages  to 
keep  away,  never  to  visit  Sinaketa  at  night  or  in  the  evening, 
and  never  to  come  singly  into  the  village.  On  hearing  that, 


DEPARTURE  OVERSEAS 

the  headman  of  an  inland  village  will  get  up  and  speak  in  this 
fashion  : 

"  Not  thus,  oh,  our  chief  ;  you  go  away,  and  your 
village  will  remain  here  as  it  is.  Look,  when  you  are  here 
we  come  to  see  you.  You  sail  away,  we  shall  keep  to  our 
villages.  When  you  return,  we  come  again.  Perhaps 
you  will  give  us  some  betel-nut,  some  sago,  some  coco-nuts. 
Perhaps  you  will  kula  to  us  some  necklace  of  shell  beads." 

After  these  harangues  are  over,  the  canoes  sail  away  in  a 
body.  Some  of  the  women  on  the  beach  may  weep  at  the 
actual  departure,  but  it  is  taboo  to  weep  afterwards.  The 
woman  are  also  supposed  to  keep  the  taboo,  that  is,  not  to 
walk  alone  out  of  the  village,  not  to  receive  male  visitors,  in 
fact,  to  remain  chaste  and  true  to  their  husbands  during  their 
absence.  Should  a  woman  commit  misconduct,  her  husband's 
canoe  would  be  slow.  As  a  rule  there  are  recriminations 
between  husbands  and  wives  and  consequent  bad  feeling  on  the 
return  of  the  party  ;  whether  the  canoe  should  be  blamed  or 
the  wife  it  is  difficult  to  say. 

The  women  now  look  out  for  the  rain  and  thunder,  for  the 
sign  that  the  men  have  opened  the  lilava  (special  magical 
bundle).  Then  they  know  that  the  party  has  arrived  on  the 
beach  of  Sarubwoyna,  and  performs  now  its  final  magic,  and 
prepares  for  its  entrance  into  the  villages  of  Tu'utauna,  and 
Bwayowa.  The  women  are  very  anxious  that  the  men  should 
succeed  in  arriving  at  Dobu,  and  that  they  should  not  be 
compelled  by  bad  weather  to  return  from  the  Amphletts. 
They  have  been  preparing  special  grass  skirts  to  put  on,  when 
they  meet  the  returning  canoes  on  the  beach  ;  they  also  hope 
to  receive  the  sago,  which  is  considered  a  dainty,  and  some 
of  the  ornaments,  which  their  men  bring  them  back  from 
Dobu.  If  for  any  reason  the  fleet  returns  prematurely,  there 
is  great  disappointment  throughout  the  village,  because  this 
means  the  expedition  has  been  a  failure,  nothing  has  been 
brought  back  to  those  left  at  home,  and  they  have  no  oppor- 
tunity of  wearing  their  ceremonial  dress. 


CHAPTER  VIII 
THE  FIRST  HALT  OF  THE  FLEET  ON  MUWA 

I 

AFTER  so  many  preparations  and  preliminaries,  we  might 
expect  that,  once  embarked,  the  natives  would  make  straight 
for  the  high  mountains,  which  beckon  them  alluringly  from  the 
distant  South.  Quite  on  the  contrary,  they  are  satisfied  with 
a  very  short  stage  the  first  day,  and  after  sailing  a  few  miles, 
they  stop  on  a  big  sand  bank  called  Muwa,  lying  to  the  south- 
west of  the  village  of  Sinaketa.  Here,  near  the  sandy  shore, 
edged  with  old,  gnarled  trees,  the  canoes  are  moored  by  sticks, 
while  the  crews  prepare  for  a  ceremonial  distribution  of  food, 
and  arrange  their  camp  for  the  night  on  the  beach. 

This  somewhat  puzzling  delay  is  less  incomprehensible,  if 
we  reflect  that  the  natives,  after  having  prepared  for  a  distant 
expedition,  now  at  last  for  the  first  time  find  themselves 
together,  separated  from  the  rest  of  the  villagers.  A  sort  of 
mustering  and  reviewing  of  forces,  as  a  rule  associated  with  a 
preliminary  feast  held  by  the  party,  is  characteristic  of  all  the 
expeditions  or  visits  in  the  Trobriands. 

I  have  spoken  already  about  big  and  small  expeditions,  but 
I  have  not  perhaps  made  quite  clear  that  the  natives  them- 
selves make  a  definite  distinction  between  big,  competitive 
Kula  expeditions,  called  uvalaku,  and  sailings  on  a  smaller 
scale,  described  as  '  just  Kula/  ("  Kula  wala  ").  The  uvalaku 
are  held  every  two  or  three  years  from  each  district,  though 
nowadays,  as  in  everything  else,  the  natives  are  getting  slack. 
One  would  be  held,  whenever  there  is  a  great  agglomeration  of 
vaygu'a,  due  to  reasons  which  I  shall  describe  later  on.  Some- 
times, a  special  event,  such  as  the  possession  by  one  of  the 
head  men  of  an  exceptionally  fine  pig,  or  of  an  object  of  high 
value,  might  give  rise  to  an  uvalaku.  Thus,  in  1918,  a  big 
competitive  expedition  (uvalaku)  from  Dobu  was  held 


208  HALT  ON  MUWA 

ostensibly  for  the  reason  that  Kauyaporu,  one  of  the  head  men 
of  Tu'utauna,  owned  a  very  large  boar  with  tusks  almost 
curling  over  into  a  circle.  Again,  plenty  of  food,  or  in  olden 
days  the  completion  of  a  successful  war  expedition,  would  form 
the  raison  d'etre  of  an  uvalaku.  Of  course  these  reasons, 
explicitly  given  by  the  natives,  are,  so  to  speak,  accessory 
causes,  for  in  reality  an  uvalaku  would  be  held  whenever  its 
turn  came,  that  is,  barring  great  scarcity  of  food  or  the  death 
of  an  important  personage. 

The  uvalaku  is  a  Kula  expedition  on  an  exceptionally  big 
scale,  carried  on  with  a  definite  social  organisation  under 
scrupulous  observance  of  all  ceremonial  and  magical  rites,  and 
distinguished  from  the  smaller  expeditions  by  its  size,  by  a 
competitive  element,  and  by  one  or  two  additional  features. 
On  an  uvalaku,  all  the  canoes  in  the  district  will  sail,  and  they 
will  sail  fully  manned.  Everybody  will  be  very  eager  to  take 
part  in  it.  Side  by  side  with  this  natural  desire,  however, 
there  exists  the  idea  that  all  the  members  of  the  crews  are  under 
an  obligation  to  go  on  the  expedition.  This  duty  they  owe  to 
the  chief,  or  master  of  the  uvalaku.  The  toli'uvalaku,  as  he  is 
called,  is  always  one  of  the  sectional  chiefs  or  headmen.  He 
plays  the  part  of  a  master  of  ceremonies,  oi>  leaving  the  beach 
of  Sinaketa,  at  the  distributions  of  food,  on  arrival  in  the 
overseas  villages,  and  on  the  ceremonial  return  home.  A 
streamer  of  dried  and  bleached  pandanus  leaf,  attached  to  the 
prows  of  his  canoe  on  a  stick,  is  the  ostensible  sign  of  the 
dignity.  Such  a  streamer  is  called  tarabauba'u  in  Kiriwinian, 
and  doya  in  the  Dobuan  language,  The  headman,  who  is 
toli'uvalaku  on  an  expedition,  will  as  a  rule  receive  more  Kula 
gifts  than  the  others.  On  him  also  will  devolve  the  glory  of  this 
particular  expedition.  Thus  the  title  of  toll,  in  this  case,  is  one 
of  honorary  and  nominal  ownership,  resulting  mainly  in  renown 
(butura)  for  its  bearer,  and  as  such  highly  valued  by  the  natives. 

From  the  economic  and  legal  point  of  view,  however,  the 
obligation  binding  the  members  of  the  expedition  to  him  is  the 
most  important  sociological  feature.  He  gives  the  distribution 
of  food,  in  which  the  others  participate,  and  this  imposes  on 
them  the  duty  of  carrying  out  the  expedition,  however  hard  this 
might  be,  however  often  they  would  have  to  stop  or  even  return 
owing  to  bad  weather,  contrary  winds,  or,  in  olden,  days,  inter- 
ference by  hostile  natives.  As  the  natives  say, 


HALT  ON  MUWA  209 

"  We  cannot  return  on  uvalaku,  for  \\e  have  eaten  of 
the  pig,  and  we  have  chewed  of  the  betel-nut  given  by  the 
toli' uvalaku." 

Only  after  the  most  distant  community  with  whom  the 
Sinaketans  kula  has  been  reached,  and  after  due  time  has  been 
allowed  for  the  collection  of  any  vaygua  within  reach,  will  the 
party  start  on  the  return  journey.  Concrete  cases  are  quoted 
in  which  expeditions  had  to  start  several  times  from  Sinaketa, 
always  returning  within  a  few  days  after  all  the  provisions  had 
been  eaten  on  Muwa,  from  where  a  contrary  wind  would  not 
allow  the  canoes  to  move  south.  Or  again,  a  memorable 
expedition,  some  few  decades  ago,  started  once  or  twice,  was 
becalmed  in  Vakuta,  had  to  give  a  heavy  payment  to  a  wind 
magician  in  the  village  of  Okinai,  to  provide  them  with  a 
propitious  northerly  wind,  and  then,  sailing  South  at  last,  met 
with  a  vineylida,  one  of  the  dreadful  perils  of  the  sea,  a  live  stone 
which  jumps  from  the  bottom  of  the  sea  at  a  canoe.  But  in 
spite  of  all  this,  they  persevered,  reached  Dobu  in  safety,  and 
made  a  successful  return. 

Thus  we  see  that,  from  a  sociological  point  of  view,  the 
uvalaku  is  an  enterprise  partially  financed  by  the  toll  uvalaku, 
and  therefore  redounding  to  his  credit,  and  bringing  him 
honour  ;  while  the  obligation  imposed  on  others  by  the  food 
distributed  to  them,  is  to  carry  on  the  expedition  to  a 
successful  end. 

It  is  rather  puzzling  to  find  that,  although  everyone  is 
eager  for  the  expedition,  although  they  all  enjoy  it  equally 
and  satisfy  their  ambition  and  increase  their  wealth  by  it,  yet 
the  element  of  compulsion  and  obligation  is  introduced  into  it  ; 
for  we  are  not  accustomed  to  the  idea  of  pleasure  having  to  be 
forced  on  people.  None  the  less,  the  uvalaku  is  not  an  isolated 
feature,  for  in  almost  all  tribal  enjoyments  and  festive  enter- 
tainments on  a  big  scale,  the  same  principle  obtains.  The 
master  of  the  festivities,  by  an  initial  distribution  of  food, 
imposes  an  obligation  on  the  others,  to  carry  through  dancing, 
sports,  or  games  of  the  season.  And  indeed,  considering  the 
ease  with  which  native  enthusiasms  flag,  with  which  jealousies, 
envies  and  quarrels  creep  in,  and  destroy  the  unanimity  of 
social  amusements,  the  need  for  compulsion  from  without  to 
amuse  oneself  appears  not  so  preposterous  as  at  first  sight. 

I  have  said  that  an  uvalaku  expedition  is  distinguished 


2io  HALT  ON  MUWA 

from  an  ordinary  one,  in  so  far  also  as  the  full  ceremonial  of  the 
Kula  has  to  be  observed.  Thus  all  the  canoes  must  be  either 
new  or  relashed,  and  without  exception  they  must  be  also  re- 
painted and  redecorated.  The  full  ceremonial  launching,  tasa- 
soria,  and  the  presentation,  kabigodoya,  are  carried  out  with 
every  detail  only  when  the  Kula  takes  the  form  of  an  uvalaku. 
The  pig  or  pigs  killed  in  the  village  before  departure  are  also 
a  special  feature  of  the  competitive  Kula.  So  is  the  kayguya'u 
ceremonial  distribution  held  on  Muwa,  just  at  the  point  of  the 
proceedings  at  which  we  have  now  arrived.  The  tanarere,  a 
big  display  of  vaygu'a  and  comparison  of  the  individual 
acquisitions  at  the  end  of  an  expedition,  is  another  ceremonial 
feature  of  the  uvalaku  and  supplies  some  of  the  competitive 
element.  There  is  also  competition  as  to  the  speed,  qualities 
and  beauties  of  the  canoes  at  the  beginning  of  such  an  expe- 
dition. Some  of  the  communities  who  present  their  vaygu'a  to 
an  uvalaku  expedition  vie  with  one  another,  as  to  who  will  give 
most,  and  in  fact  the  element  of  emulation  or  competition  runs 
right  through  the  proceedings.  In  the  following  chapters,  I 
shall  have,  in  several  more  points,  occasion  to  distinguish  an 
uvalaku  from  an  ordinary  Kula  sailing. 

It  must  be  added  at  once  that,  although  all  these  ceremonial 
features  are  compulsory  only  on  an  uvalaku  sailing,  and  although 
only  then  are  they  one  and  all  of  them  unfailingly  observed, 
some  and  even  all  may  also  be  kept  during  an  ordinary  Kula 
expedition,  especially  if  it  happens  to  be  a  somewhat  bigger  one. 
The  same  refers  to  the  various  magical  rites — that  is  to  say  the 
most  important  ones — which  although  performed  on  every 
Kula  expedition,  are  carried  out  with  more  punctilio  on  an 
uvalaku. 

Finally,  a  very  important  distinctive  feature  is  the  rule, 
that  no  vaygu'a  can  be  carried  on  the  outbound  sailing  of  an 
uvalaku.  It  must  not  be  forgotten  that  a  Kula  overseas  expe- 
dition sails,  in  order  mainly  to  receive  gifts  and  not  to  give  them, 
and  on  an  uvalaku  this  rule  is  carried  to  its  extreme,  so  that  no 
Kula  valuables  whatever  may  be  given  by  the  visiting  party. 
The  natives  sailing  from  Sinaketa  to  Dobu  on  ordinary  Kula 
may  carry  a  few  armshells  with  them,  but  when  they  sail  on  a 
.ceremonial  competitive  uvalaku,  no  armshell  is  ever  taken. 
For  it  must  be  remembered  that  Kula  exchanges,  as  has  been 
explained  in  Chapter  III,  never  take  place  simultaneously. 


HALT  ON  MUWA  211 

It  is  always  a  gift  followed  after  a  lapse  of  time  by  a  counter- 
gift.  Now  on  a  uvalaku  the  natives  would  receive  in  Dobu  a 
certain  amount  of  gifts,  which,  within  a  year  or  so,  would  be 
returned  to  the  Dobuans,  when  these  pay  a  visit  to  Sinaketa. 
But  there  is  always  a  considerable  amount  of  valuables  which 
the  Dobuans  owe  to  the  Sinaketans,  so  that  when  now  the 
Sinaketans  go  to  Dobu,  they  will  claim  also  these  gifts  due  to 
them  from  previous  occasions.  All  these  technicalities  of  Kula 
exchange  will  become  clearer  in  one  of  the  subsequent  chapters 
(Chapter  XIV). 

To  sum  up,  the  uvalaku  is  a  ceremonial  and  competitive 
expedition.  Ceremonial  it  is,  in  so  far  as  it  is  connected  with  the 
special  initial  distribution  of  food,  given  by  the  master  of  the 
uvalaku.  It  is  also  ceremonial  in  that  all  the  formalities  of  the 
Kula  are  kept  rigorously  and  without  exception,  for  in  a  sense 
every  Kula  sailing  expedition  is  ceremonial.  Competitive  it  is 
mainly  in  that  at  the  end  of  it  all  the  acquired  articles  are 
compared  and  counted.  With  this  also  the  prohibition  to 
carry  vaygu'a,  is  connected,  so  as  to  give  everyone  an  even 
start. 

II 

Returning  now  to  the  Sinaketan  fleet  assembled  at  Muwa, 
as  soon  as  they  have  arrived  there,  that  is,  some  time  about 
noon,  they  proceed  to  the  ceremonial  distribution.  Although 
the  toll  uvalaku  is  master  of  ceremonies,  in  this  case  he  as  a 
rule  sits  and  watches  the  initial  proceedings  from  a  distance. 
A  group  of  his  relatives  or  friends  of  lesser  rank  busy  them- 
selves with  the  work.  It  might  be  better  perhaps  here  to  give 
a  more  concrete  account,  since  it  is  always  difficult  to  visualise 
exactly  how  such  things  will  proceed. 

This  was  brought  home  to  me  when  in  March,  1918, 1  assisted 
at  these  initial  stages  of  the  Kula  in  the  Amphlett  Islands. 
The  natives  had  been  preparing  for  days  for  departure,  and  on 
the  final  date,  I  spent  the  whole  morning  observing  and 
photographing  the  loading  and  trimming  of  the  canoes,  the 
farewells,  and  the  setting  out  of  the  fleet.  In  the  evening, 
after  a  busy  day,  as  it  was  a  full-moon  night,  I  went  for  a  long 
pull  in  a  dinghey.  Although  in  the  Trobriands  I  had  had 
accounts  of  the  custom  of  the  first  halt,  yet  it  gave  me  a  sur- 
prise when  on  rounding  a  rocky  point  I  came  upon  the  whole 


212  HALT  ON  MUWA 

crowd  of  Gumasila  natives,  who  had  departed  on  the  Kula  that 
morning,  sitting  in  full-moon  light  on  a  beach,  only  a  few  miles 
from  the  village  which  they  had  left  with  so  much  to-do  some 
ten  hours  before.  With  the  fairly  strong  wind  that  day,  I  was 
thinking  of  them  as  camping  at  least  half  way  to  the  Trobriands, 
on  one  of  the  small  sand  banks  some  twenty  miles  North. 
I  went  and  sat  for  a  moment  among  the  morose  and  unfriendly 
Amphlett  Islanders,  who,  unlike  the  Trobrianders,  distinctly 
resented  the  inquisitive  and  blighting  presence  of  an  Ethno- 
grapher. 

To  return  to  our  Sinaketan  party,  we  can  imagine  the  chiefs 
sitting  high  up  on  the  shore  under  the  gnarled,  broad-leafed 
branches  of  the  shady  trees.  They  might  perhaps  be  resting  in 
one  group,  each  with  a  few  attendants,  or  else  every  headman 
and  chief  near  his  own  canoe,  To'udawada  silently  chewing 
betel-nut,  with  a  heavy  and  bovine  dignity,  the  excitable 
Koutauya  chattering  in  a  high  pitched  voice  with  some  of  his 
grown-up  sons,  among  whom  there  are  two  or  three  of  the  finest 
men  in  Sinaketa.  Further  on,  with  a  smaller  group  of 
attendants,  sits  the  infamous  Sinakadi,  in  conference  with  his 
successor  to  chieftainship,  his  sister's  son,  Gomaya,  also  a 
notorious  scoundrel.  On  such  occasions  it  is  good  form  for 
chiefs  not  to  busy  themselves  among  the  groups,  nor  to  survey 
the  proceedings,  but  to  keep  an  aloof  and  detached  attitude. 
In  company  with  other  notables,  they  discuss  in  the  short, 
jerky  sentences  which  make  native  languageb  so  difficult  to 
follow,  the  arrangements  and  prospects  of  the  Kula,  making 
now  and  then  a  mythological  reference,  forecasting  the 
weather,  and  discussing  the  merits  of  the  canoes. 

In  the  meantime,  the  henchmen  of  the  toli'uvalaku,  his 
sons,  his  younger  brothers,  his  relatives-in-law,  prepare  the 
distribution.  As  a  rule,  either  To'udawada  or  Koutauya  would 
be  the  toli'uvalaku.  The  one  who  at  the  given  time  has  more 
wealth  on  hand  and  prospects  of  receiving  more  vaygu'a,  would 
take  over  the  dignity  and  the  burdens,  Sinakadi  is  much  less 
wealthy,  and  probably  it  would  be  an  exception  for  him  and 
his  predecessors  and  successors  to  play  the  part.  The  minor 
headmen  of  the  other  compound  villages  of  Sinaketa  would 
never  fill  the  role. 

Whoever  is  the  master  of  the  expedition  for  the  time  being 
will  have  brought  over  a  couple  of  pigs,  which  will  now  be  laid 


HALT  ON  MUWA  213 

on  the  beach  and  admired  by  the  members  of  the  expedition. 
Soon  some  fires  are  lit,  and  the  pigs,  with  a  long  pole  thrust 
through  their  tied  feet,  are  hung  upside  down  over  the  fires.  A 
dreadful  squealing  fills  the  air  and  delights  the  hearers.  After 
the  pig  has  been  singed  to  death,  or  rather,  into  insensibility, 
it  is  taken  off  and  cut  open.  Specialists  cut  it  into  appropriate 
parts,  ready  for  the  distribution.  Yams,  taro,  coco-nuts  and 
sugar  cane  have  already  been  put  into  big  heaps,  as  many  as 
there  are  canoes — that  is,  nowadays,  eight.  On  these  heaps, 
some  hands  of  ripe  bananas  and  some  betel-nut  bunches  are 
placed.  On  the  ground,  beside  them,  on  trays  of  plaited 
coco-nut  leaves,  the  lumps  of  meat  are  displayed.  All  this 
food  has  been  provided  by  the  toli'uvalaku,  who  previously  has 
received  as  contributions  towards  it  special  presents,  both  from 
his  own  and  from  his  wife's  kinsmen.  In  fact,  if  we  try  to  draw 
out  all  the  strands  of  gifts  and  contributions  connected  with 
such  a  distribution  we  would  find  that  it  is  spun  round  into 
such  an  intricate  web,  that  even  the  lengthy  account  of  the 
foregoing  chapter  does  not  quite  do  it  justice. 

After  the  chief's  helpers  have  arranged  the  heaps,  they  go 
over  them,  seeing  that  the  apportionment  is  correct,  shifting 
some  of  the  food  here  and  there,  and  memorising  to  whom  each 
heap  will  be  given.  Often  in  the  final  round,  the  toli'uvalaku 
inspects  the  heaps  himself,  and  then  returns  to  his  former  seat. 
Then  comes  the  culminating  act  of  the  distribution.  One  of 
the  chief's  henchmen,  always  a  man  of  inferior  rank,  accom- 
panied by  the  chief's  helpers,  walks  down  the  row  of  heaps,  and 
at  each  of  them  screams  out  in  a  very  loud  voice  : 

"  0,  Siyagana,  thy  heap,  there,  O  Siyagana,  O  !  "  At 
the  next  one  he  calls  the  name  of  another  canoe  :  "  O 
Gumawora,  thy  heap,  there  !  O  Gumawora  0  !  " 

He  goes  thus  over  all  the  heaps,  allotting  each  one  to  a 
canoe.  After  that  is  finished,  some  of  the  younger  boys  of  each 
canoe  go  and  fetch  their  heap.  This  is  brought  to  their  fire,  the 
meat  is  roasted,  and  the  yams,  the  sugar  cane  and  betel-nut 
distributed  among  the  crew,  who  presently  sit  down  and  eat, 
each  group  by  itself.  We  see  that,  although  the  toli'uvalaku  is 
responsible  for  the  feast,  and  receives  from  the  natives  all  the 
credit  for  it,  his  active  part  in  the  proceedings  is  a  small  one, 
and  it  is  more  nominal  than  real.  On  such  occasions  it  would 


214  HALT  ON  MUWA 

perhaps  be  incorrect  to  call  him '  master  of  ceremonies/  although 
he  assumes  this  role,  as  we  shall  see,  on  other  occasions. 
Nevertheless,  for  the  natives,  he  is  the  centre  of  the  proceedings. 
His  people  do  all  the  work  there  is  to  be  done,  and  in  certain 
cases  he  would  be  referred  to  for  a  decision,  on  some  question  of 
etiquette. 

After  the  meal  is  over,  the  natives  rest,  chew  betel-nut 
and  smoke,  looking  across  the  water  towards  the  setting  sun 
— it  is  now  probably  late  in  the  afternoon — towards  where, 
above  the  moored  canoes,  which  rock  and  splash  in  the  shallows, 
there  float  the  faint  silhouettes  of  the  mountains.  These  are  the 
distant  Koya,  the  high  hills  in  the  d'Entrecasteaux  and 
Amphletts,  to  which  the  elder  natives  have  often  already 
sailed,  and  of  which  the  younger  have  heard  so  many  times  in 
myth,  tales  and  magical  spells.  Kula  conversations  will 
predominate  on  such  occasions,  and  names  of  distant  partners, 
and  personal  names  of  specially  valuable  vaygu'a  will  punctuate 
the  conversation  and  make  it  very  obscure  to  those  not  initiated 
into  the  technicalities  and  historical  traditions  of  the  Kula. 
Recollections  how  a  certain  big  spondylus  necklace  passed  a 
couple  of  years  ago  through  Sinaketa,  how  So-and-so  handed  it 
to  So-and-so  in  Kiriwina,  who  again  gave  it  to  one  of  his 
partners  in  Kitava  (all  the  personal  names  of  course  being 
mentioned)  and  how  it  went  from  there  to  Woodlark  Island, 
where  its  traces  become  lost — such  reminiscences  lead  to 
conjectures  as  to  where  the  necklace  might  now  be,  and  whether 
there  is  a  chance  of  meeting  it  in  Dobu.  Famous  exchanges  are 
cited,  quarrels  over  Kula  grievances,  cases  in  which  a  man  was 
killed  by  magic  for  his  too  successful  dealings  in  the  Kula, 
are  told  one  after  the  other,  and  listened  to  with  never  failing 
interest.  The  younger  men  amuse  themselves  perhaps  with 
less  serious  discussions  about  the  dangers  awaiting  them 
on  the  sea,  about  the  fierceness  of  the  witches  and  dread- 
ful beings  in  the  Koya,  while  many  a  young  Trobriander 
would  be  warned  at  this  stage  of  the  unaccommodating 
attitude  of  the  women  in  Dobu,  and  of  the  fierceness  of 
their  men  folk. 

After  nightfall  a  number  of  small  fires  are  lit  on  the  beach. 
The  stiff  pandanus  mats,  folded  in  the  middle,  are  put  over 
each  sleeper  so  as  to  form  a  small  roof,  and  the  whole  crowd 
settle  down  for  the  night. 


HALT  ON  MUWA  215 

III 

Next  morning,  if  there  is  a  fair  wind,  or  a  hope  of  it,  the 
natives  are  up  very  early,  and  all  are  feverishly  active.  Some 
fix  up  the  masts  and  rigging  of  the  canoes,  doing  it  much  more 
thoroughly  and  carefully  than  it  was  done  on  the  previous 
morning,  since  there  may  be  a  whole  day's  sailing  ahead  of  them 
perhaps  with  a  strong  wind,  and  under  dangerous  conditions. 
After  all  is  done,  the  sails  ready  to  be  hoisted,  the  various  ropqs 
put  into  good  trim,  all  the  members  of  the  crew  sit  at  their 
posts,  and  each  canoe  waits  some  few  yards  from  the  beach  for 
its  toliwaga  (master  of  the  canoe).  He  remains  on  shore, 
in  order  to  perform  one  of  the  several  magical  rites  which,  at 
this  stage  of  sailing,  break  through  the  purely  matter-of-fact 
events.  All  these  rites  of  magic  are  directed  towards  the 
canoes,  making  them  speedy,  seaworthy  and  safe.  In  the 
first  rite,  some  leaves  are  medicated  by  the  toliwaga  as  he  squats 
over  them  on  the  beach  and  recites  a  formula.  The  wording  of 
this  indicates  that  it  is  a  speed  magic,  and  this  is  also  the 
explicit  statement  of  the  natives. 

KADUMIYALA  SPELL. 

In  this  spell,  the  flying  fish  and  the  jumping  gar  fish 
are  invoked  at  the  beginning.  Then  the  toliwaga  urges  his 
canoe  to  fly  at  its  bows  and  at  its  stern.  Then,  in  a  long 
tapwana,  he  repeats  a  word  signifying  the  magical  impart- 
ing of  speed,  and  with  the  names  of  the  various  parts  of  the 
canoe.  The  last  part  runs  :  "  The  canoe  flies,  the  canoe 
flies  in  the  morning,  the  canoe  flies  at  sunrise,  the  canoe 
flies  like  a  flying  witch/1  ending  up  with  the  onomatopoetic 
words  "  Saydidi,  tatata,  numsa"  which  represent  the 
flapping  of  pandanus  streamers  in  the  wind,  or  as  others 
say,  the  noises  made  by  the  flying  witches,  as  they  move 
through  the  air  on  a  stormy  night. 

After  having  uttered  this  spell  into  the  leaves,  the  toliwaga 
gives  them  to  one  of  the  usagelu  (members  of  the  crew),  who, 
wading  round  the  waga,  rubs  with  them  first  the  dobwana, 
'  head  '  of  the  canoe,  then  the  middle  of  its  body,  and  finally  its 
u'ula  (basis).  Proceeding  round  on  the  side  of  the  outrigger, 
he  rubs  the  '  head  '  again.  It  may  be  remembered  here  that, 
with  the  native  canoes,  fore  and  aft  in  the  sailing  sense  are 
interchangeable,  since  the  canoe  must  sail  having  always  the 


2i6  HALT  ON  MUWA 

wind  on  its  outrigger  side,  and  it  often  has  to  change  stern  to 
bows.  But  standing  on  a  canoe  so  that  the  outrigger  is  on  the 
left  hand,  and  the  body  of  the  canoe  on  the  right,  a  native  will 
call  the  end  of  the  canoe  in  front  of  him  its  head  (dabwana), 
and  that  behind,  its  basis  (u'ula). 

After  this  is  over,  the  toliwaga  enters  the  canoe,  the  sail  is 
hoisted,  and  the  canoe  rushes  ahead.  Now  two  or  three 
pandanus  streamers  which  had  previously  been  medicated  in 
the  village  by  the  toliwaga  are  tied  to  the  rigging,  and  to  the 
mast.  The  following  is  the  spell  which  had  been  said  over 
them  : 

BISILA  SPELL. 

"  Bora'i,  Bora'i  (a  mythical  name).  Bora'i  flies,  it  will 
fly  ;  Bora'i  Bora'i,  Bora'i  stands  up,  it  will  stand  up. 
In  company  with  Bora'i — sidididi.  Break  through  your 
passage  in  Kadimwatu,  pierce  through  thy  Promontory  of 
Salamwa.  Go  and  attach  your  pandanus  streamer  in 
Salamwa,  go  and  ascend  the  slope  of  Loma." 

"  Lift  up  the  body  of  my  canoe  ;  its  body  is  like  floating 
gossamer,  its  body  is  like  dry  banana  leaf,  its  body  is  like 
fluff." 

There  is  a  definite  association  in  the  minds  of  the  natives 
between  the  pandanus  streamers,  with  which  they  usually 
decorate  mast,  rigging  and  sail,  and  the  speed  of  the  canoe. 
The  decorative  effect  of  the  floating  strips  of  pale,  glittering, 
yellow  is  indeed  wonderful,  when  the  speed  of  the  canoe  makes 
them  flutter  in  the  wind.  Like  small  banners  of  some  stiff, 
golden  fabric  they  envelope  the  sail  and  rigging  with  light, 
colour  and  movement. 

The  pandanus  streamers,  and  especially  their  trembling,  are 
a  definite  characteristic  of  Trobriand  culture  (see  Plate  XXIX). 
In  some  of  their  dances,  the  natives  use  long,  bleached  ribbons 
of  pandanus,  which  the  men  hold  in  both  hands,  and  set 
a-flutter  while  they  dance.  To  do  this  well  is  one  of  the  main 
achievements  of  a  brilliant  artist  On  many  festive  occasions 
the  bisila  (pandanus  streamers)  are  tied  to  houses  on  poles  for 
decoration.  They  are  thrust  into  armlets  and  belts  as  per- 
sonal ornaments.  The  vaygua  (valuables)  when  prepared  for 
the  Kula,  are  decorated  with  strips  of  bisila.  In  the  Kula  a 
chief  will  send  to  some  distant  partner  a  bisila  streamer  over 
which  a  special  spell  has  been  recited,  and  this  will  make  the 


HALT  ON  MUWA  217 

partner  eager  to  bestow  valuables  on  the  sender.  As  we  saw, 
a  broad  bisila  streamer  is  attached  to  the  canoe  oi&toli'uvalaku 
as  his  badge  of  honour.  The  flying  witches  (mulukwausi)  are 
supposed  to  use  pandanus  streamers  in  order  to  acquire  speed 
and  levitation  in  their  nightly  flights  through  the  air. 

After  the  magical  pandanus  strips  have  been  tied  to  the 
rigging,  beside  the  non-magical,  purely  ornamental  ones,  the 
toliwaga  sits  at  the  veva  rope,  the  sheet  by  which  the  sail  is 
extended  to  the  wind,  and  moving  it  to  and  fro  he  recites  a 
spell. 

KAYIKUNA  VEVA  SPELL. 

Two  verbs  signifying  magical  influence  are  repeated 
with  the  prefix  bo — which  implies  the  conception  of 

I  ritual '    or    '  sacred  '    or    '  being    tabooed/*     Then  the 
toliwaga  says  :    "I  shall  treat  my  canoe  magically  in  its 
middle  part,  I  shall  treat  it  in  its  body.     I  shall  take  my 
butia   (flower   wreath),   of  the   sweet-scented   flowers.     I 
shall  put  it  on  the  head  of  my  canoe." 

Then  a  lengthy  middle  strophe  is  recited,  in  which  all 
the  parts  of  a  canoe  are  named  with  two  verbs  one  after 
the  other.  The  verbs  are  :  "  To  wreathe  the  canoe  in  a 
ritual  manner,"  and  "  to  paint  it  red  in  a  ritual  manner." 
The  prefix  bo-,  added  to  the  verbs,  has  been  here  translated, 

II  in  a  ritual  manner."* 

The  spell  ends  by  a  conclusion  similar  to  that  of  many 
other  canoe  formulae,  "  My  canoe,  thou  art  like  a  whirl- 
wind, like  a  vanishing  shadow  !  Disappear  in  the 
distance,  become  like  mist,  avaunt !  " 

These  are  the  three  usual  rites  for  the  sake  of  speed  at  the 
beginning  of  the  journey.  If  the  canoe  remains  slow,  however, 
an  auxiliary  rite  is  performed  ;  a  piece  of  dried  banana  leaf  is 
put  between  the  gunwale  and  one  of  the  inner  frame  sticks  of 
the  canoe,  and  a  spell  is  recited  over  it.  After  that,  they  beat 
both  ends  of  the  canoe  with  this  banana  leaf.  If  the  canoe  is 

*  The  prefix  bo — has  three  different  etymological  derivations,  each  carry- 
ing its  own  shade  of  meaning.  First,  it  may  be  the  first  part  of  the  word 
bomala,  in  which  case,  its  meaning  will  be  "  ritual"  or  "sacred."  Secondly,  it 
may  be  denved  from  the  word  6w'a,  areca-nut,  a  substance  very  often  used  and 
mentioned  in  magic,  both  because  it  is  a  narcotic,  and  a  beautiful,  vermilion 
dye.  Thirdly,  the  prefix  may  be  a  derivation  from  butia,  the  sweet  scented 
flower  made  into  wreaths,  in  which  case  it  would  usually  be  bway,  but  sometimes 
might  become  bo-,  and  would  carry  the  meaning  of  "festive,"  "decorated." 
To  a  native,  who  does  not  look  upon  a  spell  as  an  ethnological  document,  but 
as  an  instrument  of  magical  power,  the  prefix  probably  conveys  all  three  mean- 
ings at  once,  and  the  word  "  ritual "  covers  best  all  these  three  meanings. 


2i8  HALT  ON  MUWA 

still  heavy,  and  lags  behind  the  others,  a  piece  of  kuleya  (cooked 
and  stale  yam)  is  put  on  a  mat,  and  the  toliwaga  medicates  it 
with  a  spell  which  transfers  the  heaviness  to  the  yam.  The 
spell  here  recited  is  the  same  one  which  we  met  when  the 
heavy  log  was  being  pulled  into  the  village.  The  log  was  then 
beaten  with  a  bunch  of  grass,  accompanied  by  the  recital  of  the 
spell,  and  then  this  bunch  was  thrown  away.*  In  this'case  the 
piece  of  yam  which  has  taken  on  the  heaviness  of  the  canoe  is 
thrown  overboard.  Sometimes,  however,  even  this  is  of  no 
avail.  The  toliwaga  then  seats  himself  on  the  platform  next  to 
the  steersman,  and  utters  a  spell  over  a  piece  of  coco-nut  husk, 
which  is  thrown  into  the  water.  This  rite,  called  Bisiboda 
patile  is  a  piece  of  evil-magic  (bulubwalata) ,  intended  to  keep 
all  the  other  canoes  back.  If  that  does  not  help,  the  natives 
conclude  that  some  taboos  pertaining  to  the  canoe  might  have 
been  broken,  and  perhaps  the  toliwaga  may  feel  some  misgivings 
regarding  the  conduct  of  his  wife  or  wives. 


See  Division  II  of  Chapter  V. 


CHAPTER  IX 
SAILING  ON  THE  SEA-ARM  OF  PILOLU 

I 

Now  at  last  the  Kula  expedition  is  properly  set  going.  The 
canoes  are  started  on  a  long  stage,  before  them  the  sea-arm 
of  Pilolu,  stretching  between  the  Trobriands  and  the  d'Entre- 
casteaux.  On  the  North,  this  portion  of  the  sea  is  bounded 
by  the  Archipelago  of  the  Trobriands,  that  is,  by  the  islands  of 
Vakuta,  Boyowa  and  Kayleula,  joining  in  the  west  on  to  the 
scattered  belt  of  the  Lousan$ay  Islands.  On  the  east,  a  long 
submerged  reef  runs  from  the  southern  end  of  Vakuta  to  the 
Amphletts,  forming  an  extended  barrier  to  sailing,  but  affording 
little  protection  from  the  eastern  winds  and  seas.  In  the 
South,  this  barrier  links  on  to  the  Amphletts,  which  together 
with  the  Northern  coast  of  Fergusson  and  Goodenough,  form 
the  Southern  shore  of  Pilolu  To  the  West,  Pilolu  opens  up 
into  the  seas  between  the  mainland  of  New  Guinea  and  the 
Bismarck  Archipelago.  In  fact,  what  the  natives  designate  by 
the  name  of  Pilolu  is  nothing  else  but  the  enormous  basin  of  the 
Lousan£ay  Lagoon,  the  largest  coral  atoll  in  the  world.  To  the 
natives,  the  name  of  Pilolu  is  full  of  emotional  associations, 
drawn  from  magic  and  myth  ;  it  is  connected  with  the  experi- 
ences of  past  generations,  told  by  the  old  men  round  the  village 
fires  and  with  adventure  personally  lived  through, 

As  the  Kula  adventurers  speed  along  with  filled  sails,  the 
shallow  Lagoon  of  the  Trobriands  soon  falls  away  behind  ; 
the  dull  green  waters,  sprinkled  with  patches  of  brown  where 
seaweed  grows  high  and  rank,  and  lit  up  here  and  there  with 
spots  of  bright  emerald  where  a  shallow  bottom  of  clean  sand 
shines  through,  give  place  to  a  deeper  sea  of  strong  green  hue. 
The  low  strip  of  land,  which  surrounds  the  Trobriand  Lagoon  in 
a  wide  sweep,  thins  away  and  dissolves  in  the  haze,  and  before 
them  the  southern  mountains  rise  higher  and  higher.  On  a 


220  SAILING  ON  PILOLU 

clear  day,  these  are  visible  even  from  the  Trobriands.  The 
neat  outlines  of  the  Amphletts  stand  diminutive,  yet  firmer 
and  more  material,  against  the  blue  silhouettes  of  the  higher 
mountains  behind.  These,  like  a  far  away  cloud  are  draped 
in  wreaths  of  cumuli,  almost  always  clinging  to  their  summits. 
The  nearest  of  them,  Koyatabu — the  mountain  of  the  taboo — * 
on  the  North  end  of  Fergusson  Island,  a  slim,  somewhat  tilted 
pyramid,  forms  a  most  alluring  beacon,  guiding  the  mariners 
due  South,  To  the  right  of  it,  as  we  look  towards  the  South- 
West,  a  broad,  bulky  mountain,  the  Koyabwaga'u — mountain 
of  the  sorcerers — marks  the  North-western  corner  of  Fergusson 
Island.  The  mountains  on  Goodenough  Island  are  visible  only 
in  very  clear  weather,  and  then  very  faintly. 

Within  a  day  or  two,  these  disembodied,  misty  forms  are  to 
assume  what  for  the  Trobrianders  seems  marvellous  shape  and 
enormous  bulk.  They  are  to  surround  the  Kula  traders  with 
their  solid  walls  of  precipitous  rock  and  green  jungle,  furrowed 
with  deep  ravines  and  streaked  with  racing  water-courses. 
The  Trobrianders  will  sail  deep,  shaded  bays,  resounding  with 
the,  to  them  unknown,  voice  of  waterfalls  ;  with  the  weird 
cries  of  strange  birds  which  never  visit  the  Trobriands,  such  as 
the  laughing  of  the  kookooburra  (laughing  jackass),  and  the 
melancholy  call  of  the  South  Sea  crow.  The  sea  will  change 
its  colour  once  more,  become  pure  blue,  and  beneath  its  trans- 
parent waters,  a  marvellous  world  of  multi-coloured  coral, 
fish  and  seaweed  will  unfold  itself,  a  world  which,  through  a 
strange  geographical  irony,  the  inhabitants  of  a  coral  island 
hardly  ever  can  see  at  home,  and  must  come  to  this  volcanic 
region  to  discover. 

In  these  surroundings,  they  will  find  also  wonderful,  heavy, 
compact  stones  of  various  colours  and  shapes,  whereas  at  home 
the  only  stone  is  the  insipid,  white,  dead  coral  Here  they  can 
see,  besides  many  types  of  granite  and  basalt  and  volcanic  tuff, 
specimens  of  black  obsidian,  with  its  sharp  edges  and  metallic 
ring,  and  sites  full  of  red  and  yellow  ochre.  Besides  big  hills  of 
volcanic  ash,  they  will  behold  hot  springs  boiling  up  periodi- 
cally. Of  all  these  marvels  the  young  Trobriander  hears  tales, 
and  sees  samples  brought  back  to  his  country,  and  there  is  no 

*  The  word  tabu,  in  the  meaning  of  taboo—  prohibition— is  used  in  its 
verbal  form  in  the  language  of  the  Trobriands,  but  not  very  often.  Tho  noun 
"prohibition,"  "sacred  thing,"  is  always  bomala,  used  with  suffixed  personal 
pronouns. 


SAILING  ON  PILOLU  221 

doubt  that  it  is  for  him  a  wonderful  experience  to  find  himself 
amongst  them  for  the  first  time,  and  that  afterwards  he  eagerly 
seizes  every  opportunity  that  offers  to  sail  again  to  the  Koya. 
Thus  the  landscape  now  before  them  is  a  sort  of  promised  land, 
a  country  spoken  of  in  almost  legendary  tone. 

And  indeed  the  scenery  here,  on  the  borderland  of  the  two 
different  worlds,  is  singularly  impressive.  Sailing  away  from 
the  Trobriands  on  my  last  expedition,  I  had  to  spend  two  days, 
weatherbound,  on  a  small  sandbank  covered  with  a  few  pan- 
danus  trees,  about  midway  between  the  Trobriands  and  the 
Amphletts.  A  darkened  sea  lay  to  the  North,  big  thunder- 
clouds hanging  over  where  I  knew  there  was  the  large  flat  island 
of  Boyowa — the  Trobriands.  To  the  South,  against  a  clearer 
sky,  were  the  abrupt  forms  of  the  mountains,  scattered  over 
half  of  the  horizon.  The  scenery  seemed  saturated  with  myth 
and  legendary  tales,  with  the  strange  adventures,  hopes  and 
fears  of  generations  of  native  sailors.  On  this  sandbank  they 
had  often  camped,  when  becalmed  or  threatened  with  bad 
weather.  On  such  an  island,  the  great  mythical  hero,  Kasab- 
waybwayreta  stopped,  and  was  marooned  by  his  companions, 
only  to  escape  through  the  sky  Here  again  a  mythical  canoe 
once  halted,  in  order  to  be  re-caulked.  As  I  sat  there,  looking 
towards  the  Southern  mountains,  so  clearly  visible,  yet  so  in- 
accessible, I  realised  what  must  be  the  feelings  of  the 
Trobrianders,  desirous  to  reach  the  Koya,  to  meet  the  strange 
people,  and  to  kula  with  them,  a  desire  made  perhaps  even  more 
acute  by  a  mixture  of  fear.  For  there,  to  the  west  of  the 
Amphletts,  they  see  the  big  bay  of  Gabu,  where  once  the  crews  of 
a  whole  fleet  of  Trobriand  canoes  were  killed  and  eaten  by  the 
inhabitants  of  unknown  villages,  in  attempting  to  kula  with  them. 
And  stories  are  also  told  of  single  canoes,  drifted  apart  from 
the  fleet  and  cast  against  the  northern  shore  of  Fergusson 
Island,  of  which  all  the  crew  perished  at  the  hands  of  the 
cannibals.  There  are  also  legends  of  some  inexperienced 
natives,  who,  visiting  the  neighbourhood  of  Deyde'i  and 
arriving  at  the  crystal  water  in  the  big  stone  basins  there, 
plunged  in,  to  meet  a  dreadful  death  in  the  almost  boiling  pool. 

But  though  the  legendary  dangers  on  the  distant  shores 
may  appall  the  native  imagination,  the  perils  of  actual  sailing 
are  even  more  real.  The  sea  over  which  they  travel  is  seamed 
with  reefs,  studded  with  sandbanks  and  coral  rocks  awash. 


222  SAILING  ON  PILOLU 

And  though  in  fair  weather  these  are  not  so  dangerous  to  a 
canoe  as  to  a  European  boat,  yet  they  are  bad  enough.  The 
main  dangers  of  native  sailing,  however,  lie  in  the  helplessness 
of  a  canoe.  As  we  have  said  before,  it  cannot  sail  close  to  the 
wind,  and  therefore  cannot  beat.  If  the  wind  comes  round,  the 
canoe  has  to  turn  and  retrace  its  course.  This  is  very  un- 
pleasant, but  not  necessarily  dangerous.  If,  however,  the 
wind  drops,  and  the  canoe  just  happens  to  be  in  one  of  the 
strong  tides,  which  run  anything  between  three  and  five  knots, 
or  if  it  becomes  disabled,  and  makes  leeway  at  right  angles  to 
its  course,  the  situation  becomes  dangerous.  To  the  West, 
there  lies  the  open  sea,  and  once  far  out  there,  the  canoe  would 
have  slender  chances  of  ever  returning.  To  the  East,  there 
runs  the  reef,  on  which  in  heavy  weather  a  native  canoe  would 
surely  be  smashed.  In  May,  1918,  a  Dobuan  canoe,  returning 
home  a  few  days  after  the  rest  of  the  fleet,  was  caught  by  a 
strong  South-Easterly  wind,  so  strong  that  it  had  to  give  up 
its  course,  and  make  North-West  to  one  of  the  Lousangay 
Islands.  It  had  been  given  up  as  lost,  when  in  August  it  came 
back  with  a  chance  blow  of  the  North-Westerly  wind.  It  had 
had,  however,  a  narrow  escape  in  making  the  small  island. 
Had  it  been  blown  further  West,  it  would  never  have  reached 
land  at  all. 

There  exist  other  tales  of  lost  canoes,  and  it  is  a  wonder 
that  accidents  are  not  more  frequent,  considering  the  con- 
ditions under  which  they  have  to  sail.  Sailing  has  to  be  done, 
so  to  speak,  on  straight  lines  across  the  sea.  Once  they 
deviate  from  this  course,  all  sorts  of  dangers  crop  up.  Not 
only  that,  but  they  must  sail  between  fixed  points  on  the  land. 
For,  and  this  of  course  refers  to  the  olden  days,  if  they  had  to 
go  ashore,  anywhere  but  in  the  district  of  a  friendly  tribe,  the 
perils  which  met  them  were  almost  as  bad  as  those  of  reefs  and 
sharks.  If  the  sailors  missed  the  friendly  villages  of  the 
Amphletts  and  of  Dobu,  everywhere  else  they  would  meet  with 
extermination  Even  nowadays,  though  the  danger  of  being 
killed  would  be  smaller — perhaps  not  absolutely  non-existent 
— yet  the  natives  would  feel  very  uncomfortable  at  the  idea  of 
landing  in  a  strange  district,  fearing  not  only  death  by  violence, 
but  even  more  by  evil  magic.  Thus,  as  the  natives  sail  across 
Pilolu,  only  very  small  sectors  of  their  horizon  present  a  safe 
goal  for  their  journey. 


SAILING  ON  PILOLU  223 

On  the  East,  indeed,  beyond  the  dangerous  barrier  reef, 
there  is  a  friendly  horizon,  marked  for  them  by  the  Marshall 
Bennett  Islands,  and  Woodlark,  the  country  known  under  the 
term  Omuyuwa.  To  the  South,  there  is  the  Koya,  also  known 
as  the  land  of  the  kinana,  by  which  name  the  natives  of  the 
d'Entrecasteaux  and  the  Amphletts  are  known  generically. 
But  to  the  South- West  and  West  there  is  the  deep  open  sea 
(bebega),  and  beyond  that,  lands  inhabited  by  tailed  people, 
and  by  people  with  wings  of  whom  very  little  more  is  known. 
To  the  North,  beyond  the  reef  of  small  coral  islands,  lying  off  the 
Trobriands,  there  are  two  countries,  Kokopawa  and 
Kaytalugi.  Kokopawa  is  peopled  with  ordinary  men  and 
women,  who  walk  about  naked,  and  are  great  gardeners. 
Whether  this  country  corresponds  to  the  South  coast  of  New 
Britain,  where  people  really  are  without  any  clothing,  it  would 
be  difficult  to  say. 

The  other  country,  Kaytalugi,  is  a  land  of  women  only,  in 
which  no  man  can  survive.  The  women  who  live  there  are 
beautiful,  big  and  strong,  and  they  walk  about  naked,  and 
with  their  bodily  hair  unshaven  (which  is  contrary  to  the 
Trobriand  custom).  They  are  extremely  dangerous  to  any 
man  through  the  unbounded  violence  of  their  passion.  The 
natives  never  tire  of  describing  graphically  how  such  women 
would  satisfy  their  sensuous  lust,  if  they  got  hold  of  some 
luckless,  shipwrecked  man.  No  one  could  survive,  even  for  a 
short  time,  the  amorous  yet  brutal  attacks  of  these  women. 
The  natives  compare  this  treatment  to  that  customary  at  the 
yousa,  the  orgiastic  mishandling  of  any  man,  caught  at  certain 
stages  of  female  communal  labour  in  Boyowa  (cf.  Chapter  II, 
Division  II).  Not  even  the  boys  born  on  this  island  of 
Kaytalugi  can  survive  a  tender  age.  It  must  be  remembered 
the  natives  see  no  need  for  male  co-operation  in  continuing  the 
race.  Thus  the  women  propagate  the  race,  although  every 
male  needs  must  come  to  an  untimely  end  before  he  can  become 
a  man. 

None  the  less,  there  is  a  legend  that  some  men  from  the 
village  of  Kaulagu,  in  eastern  Boyowa,  were  blown  in  their 
canoe  far  North  from  the  easterly  course  of  a  Kula  expedition, 
and  were  stranded  on  the  coast  of  Kaytalugi.  There,  having 
survived  the  first  reception,  they  were  apportioned  individually 
and  married.  Having  repaired  their  canoe,  ostensibly  for  the 


224  SAILING  ON  PILOLU 

sake  of  bringing  some  fish  to  their  wives,  one  night  they  put 
food  and  water  into  it,  and  secretly  sailed  away.  On  their 
return  to  their  own  village,  they  found  their  women  married  to 
other  men.  However,  such  things  never  end  tragically  in  the 
Trobriands.  As  soon  as  their  rightful  lords  reappeared  their 
women  came  back  to  them.  Among  other  things  these  men 
brought  to  Boyowa  a  variety  of  banana  called  usikela,  not 
known  before. 

II 

Returning  again  to  our  Kula  party,  we  see  that,  in  journey- 
ing across  Pilolu,  they  move  within  the  narrow  confines  of 
familiar  sailing  ground,  surrounded  on  all  sides  both  by  real 
dangers  and  by  lands  of  imaginary  horrors.  On  their  track, 
however,  the  natives  never  go  out  of  sight  of  land,  and  in  the 
event  of  mist  or  rain,  they  can  always  take  sufficient  bearings  to 
enable  them  to  make  for  the  nearest  sand-bank  or  island. 
This  is  never  more  than  some  six  miles  off,  a  distance  which, 
should  the  wind  have  dropped,  may  even  be  reached  by 
paddling. 

Another  thing  that  also  makes  their  sailing  not  so  dangerous 
as  one  would  imagine,  is  the  regularity  of  the  winds  in  this  part 
of  the  world.  As  a  rule,  in  each  of  the  two  main  seasons,  there 
is  one  prevailing  direction  of  wind,  which  does  not  shift  more 
than  within  some  ninety  degrees.  Thus,  in  the  dry  season, 
from  May  to  October,  the  trade  wind  blows  almost  incessantly 
from  the  South-East  or  South,  moving  sometimes  to  the  North- 
East,  but  never  beyond  that  As  a  matter  of  fact,  however, 
this  season,  just  because  of  the  constancy  of  the  wind,  does  not 
lend  itself  very  well  to  native  sailing.  For  although  with  this 
wind  it  is  easy  to  sail  from  South  to  North,  or  East  to  West, 
it  is  impossible  to  retrace  the  course,  and  as  the  wind  often 
blows  for  months  without  veering,  the  natives  prefer  to  do  their 
sailings  between  the  seasons,  or  in  the  time  when  the  monsoon 
blows.  Between  the  seasons — November,  December  or 
March  and  April — the  winds  are  not  so  constant,  in  fact  they 
shift  from  one  position  on  the  compass  to  another.  On  the 
other  hand,  there  is  very  seldom  a  strong  blow  at  this  time,  and 
so  this  is  the  ideal  season  for  sailing  In  the  hot  summer 
months,  December  till  March,  the  monsoon  blows  from  the 
North- West  or  South- West,  less  regularly  than  a  trade  wind,  but 


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SAILING  ON  PILOLU  225 

often  culminating  in  violent  storms  which  almost  always  come 
from  the  North- West.  Thus  the  two  strong  winds  to  be  met  in 
these  seas  come  from  definite  directions,  and  this  minimises  the 
danger.  The  natives  also  as  a  rule  are  able  to  foretell  a  day  or 
two  beforehand  the  approach  of  a  squall.  Rightly  or  wrongly, 
they  associate  the  strength  of  the  North- Westerly  gales  with 
the  phases  of  the  moon 

There  is,  of  course,  a  good  deal  of  magic  to  make  wind  blow 
or  to  put  it  down.  Like  many  other  forms  of  magic,  wind 
magic  is  localised  in  villages.  The  inhabitants  of  Simsim,  the 
biggest  village  in  the  Lousan^ay  Islands,  and  the  furthest  North- 
Westerly  settlement  of  this  district,  are  credited  with  the 
ability  of  controlling  the  North-Westerly  wind,  perhaps 
through  association  with  their  geographical  position.  Again, 
the  control  over  the  South-Easterly  wind  is  granted  to  the 
inhabitants  of  Kitava,  lying  to  the  East  of  Boyowa.  The 
Simsim  people  control  all  the  winds  which  blow  habitually 
during  the  rainy  season,  that  is  the  winds  on  the  western 
side  of  the  compass,  from  North  to  South.  The  other  half 
can  be  worked  by  the  Kitavan  spells. 

Many  men  in  Boyowa  have  learnt  both  spells  and  they 
practise  the  magic.  The  spells  are  chanted  broadcast  into  the 
wind,  without  any  other  ritual.  It  is  an  impressive  spectacle  to 
walk  through  a  village,  during  one  of  the  devastating  gales, 
which  always  arise  at  night  and  during  which  people  leave  their 
huts  and  assemble  in  cleared  spaces.  They  are  afraid  the 
wind  may  lift  their  dwellings  off  the  ground,  or  uproot  a  tree 
which  might  injure  them  in  falling,  an  accident  which  actually 
did  happen  a  year  or  two  ago  in  Wawela,  killing  the  chief's 
wife.  Through  the  darkness  from  the  doors  of  some  of  the  huts, 
and  from  among  the  huddled  groups,  there  resound  loud  voices, 
chanting,  in  a  penetrating  sing-song,  the  spells  for  abating  the 
force  of  the  wind.  On  such  occasions,  feeling  myself  somewhat 
nervous,  I  was  deeply  impressed  by  this  persistent  effort  of 
frail,  human  voice,  fraught  with  deep  belief,  pitting  itself  so 
feebly  against  the  monotonous,  overpowering  force  of  the  wind. 

Taking  the  bearing*  by  sight,  and  helped  by  the  uniformity 
of  winds,  the  natives  have  no  need  of  even  the  most  elementary 
knowledge  of  navigation.  Barring  accidents  they  never  have 
to  direct  their  course  by  the  stars.  Of  these,  they  know  certain 
outstanding  constellations,  sufficient  to  indicate  for  them  the 


226  SAILING  ON  PILOLU 

direction,  should  they  need  it.  They  have  names  for  the 
Pleiades,  for  Orion,  for  the  Southern  Cross,  and  they  also 
recognise  a  few  constellations  of  their  own  construction.  Their 
knowledge  of  the  stars,  as  we  have  mentioned  already  in 
Chapter  II,  Division  V,  is  localised  in  the  village  of  Wawela, 
where  it  is  handed  over  in  the  maternal  line  of  the  chiefs  of  the 
village. 

In  order  to  understand  better  the  customs  and  problems  of 
sailing,  a  few  words  must  be  said  about  the  technique  of 
managing  a  canoe.  As  we  have  said  before,  the  wind  must 
always  strike  the  craft,  on  the  outrigger  side,  so  the  sailing  canoe 
is  always  tilted  with  its  float  raised,  and  the  platform  slanting 
towards  the  body  of  the  canoe.  This  makes  it  necessary  for 
it  to  be  able  to  change  bows  and  stern  at  will  ;  for  imagine 
that  a  canoe  going  due  South,  has  to  sail  with  a  North-Easterly 
wind,  then  the  lamina  (outrigger)  must  be  on  the  left  hand,  and 
the  canoe  sails  with  what  the  natives  call  its  "  head  "  forward. 
Now  imagine  that  the  wind  turns  to  the  North- West.  Should 
this  happen  in  a  violent  squall,  without  warning,  the  canoe 
would  be  at  once  submerged  But,  as  such  a  change  would  be 
gradual,  barring  accidents,  the  natives  could  easily  cope  with  it. 
The  mast,  which  is  tied  at  the  fourth  cross-pole  (ri'u)  from 
the  temporary  bows  of  the  canoe,  would  be  unbound,  the  canoe 
would  be  turned  180  degrees  around,  so  that  its  head  would  now 
form  the  stern,  its  u'ula  (foundation)  would  face  South,  and 
become  its  bows,  and  the  platform  would  be  to  our  right, 
facing  West.  The  mast  would  be  attached  again  to  the  fourth 
cross-pole  (ri'u),  from  the  u'ula  end,  the  sail  hoisted,  and  the 
canoe  would  glide  along  with  the  wind  striking  it  again  on  its 
outrigger  side,  but  having  changed  bows  to  stern  (see  Plate  XLI). 

The  natives  have  a  set  of  nautical  expressions  to  describe 
the  various  operations  of  changing  mast,  of  trimming  the  sail, 
of  paying  out  the  sheet  rope,  of  shifting  the  sail,  so  that  it  stands 
up  with  its  bottom  end  high,  and  its  tip  touching  the  canoe,  or 
else  letting  it  lie  with  both  boom  and  gaff  almost  horizontal. 
And  they  have  definite  rules  as  to  how  the  various  manoeuvres 
should  be  carried  out,  according  to  the  strength  of  the  wind, 
and  to  the  quarter  on  which  it  strikes  the  canoe.  They  have 
four  expressions  denoting  a  following  wind,  wind  striking 
the  outrigger  beam,  wind  striking  the  canoe  from  the  katala 
(built-out  body),  and  wind  striking  the  canoe  on  the 


SAILING  ON  PILOLU  227 

outrigger  side  close  to  the  direction  of  sailing.  There  is  no  point, 
however,  in  adducing  this  native  terminology  here,  as  we  shall 
not  any  further  refer  to  it ;  it  is  enough  to  know  that  they  have 
got  definite  rules,  and  means  of  expressing  them,  with  regard 
to  the  handling  of  a  canoe. 

It  has  been  often  remarked  here,  that  the  Trobriand  canoes 
cannot  sail  close  to  the  wind.  They  are  very  light,  and 
shallow,  and  have  very  little  water  board,  giving  a  small  resist- 
ance against  making  lee-way.  I  think  that  this  is  also  the 
reason,  why  they  need  two  men  to  do  the  steering  for  the 
steering  oars  act  as  lee-boards.  One  of  the  men  wields  a  big, 
elongated  steering  oar,  called  kuriga.  He  sits  at  the  stern,  of 
course,  in  the  body  of  the  canoe.  The  other  man  handles  a 
smaller  steering  paddle,  leaf-shaped,  yet  with  a  bigger  blade 
than  the  paddling  oars  ;  it  is  called  viyoyu.  He  sits  at  the 
stern  end  of  the  platform,  and  does  the  steering  through  the 
sticks  of  the  pitapatile  (platform). 

The  other  working  members  of  the  crew  are  the  man  at  the 
sheet,  the  tokwabila  veva,  as  he  is  called,  who  has  to  let  out  the 
veva  or  pull  it  in,  according  as  the  wind  shifts  and  varies  in 
strength. 

Another  man,  as  a  rule,  stands  in  the  bows  of  the  ship  on 
the  look-out,  and  if  necessary,  has  to  climb  the  mast  in  order 
to  trim  the  rigging.  Or  again,  he  would  have  to  bale  the 
water  from  time  to  time,  as  this  always  leaks  through,  or 
splashes  into  the  canoe.  Thus  four  men  are  enough  to  man  a 
canoe,  though  usually  the  functions  of  the  baler  and  the  man 
on  the  look-out  and  at  the  mast  are  divided. 

When  the  wind  drops,  the  men  have  to  take  to  the  small, 
leaf-shaped  paddles,  while  one,  as  a  rule,  wields  a  pulling  oar. 
But  in  order  to  give  speed  to  a  heavy  masawa  canoe,  at  least  ten 
men  would  have  to  paddle  and  pull.  As  we  shall  see,  on 
certain  ceremonial  occasions,  the  canoes  have  to  be  propelled 
by  paddling,  for  instance  when  they  approach  their  final  destina- 
tion, after  having  performed  the  great  mwasila  magic.  When 
they  arrive  at  a  halting  place,  the  canoes,  if  necessary,  are 
beached.  As  a  rule,  however,  the  heavily  loaded  canoes  on  a 
Kula  expedition,  would  be  secured  by  both  mooring  and 
anchoring,  according  to  the  bottom.  On  muddy  bottoms,  such 
as  that  of  the  Trobriand  Lagoon,  a  long  stick  would  be  thrust 
into  the  slime,  and  one  end  of  the  canoe  lashed  to  it.  From  the 


228  SAILING  ON  PILOLU 

other,  a  heavy  stone,  tied  with  a  rope,  would  be  thrown  down 
as  an  anchor.  Over  a  hard,  rocky  bottom,  the  anchor  stone 
alone  is  used. 

It  can  be  easily  understood  that  with  such  craft,  and 
with  such  limitations  in  sailing,  there  are  many  real  dangers 
which  threaten  the  natives.  If  the  wind  is  too  strong,  and  the 
sea  becomes  too  rough,  a  canoe  may  not  be  able  to*  follow 
its  course,  and  making  lee-way,  or  even  directly  running  befor^ 
the  wind,  it  may  be  driven  into  a  quarter  where  there  is  no 
landfall  to  be  made,  or  from  where  at  best  there  is  no  returning 
at  that  season.  This  is  what  happened  to  the  Dobuan  boat  men- 
tioned before.  Or  else,  a  canoe  becalmed  and  seized  by  the  tide 
may  not  be  able  to  make  its  way  by  means  of  paddling.  Or  in 
stormy  weather,  it  may  be  smashed  on  rocks  and  sandbanks, 
or  even  unable  to  withstand  the  impact  of  waves.  An  open 
craft  like  a  native  canoe  easily  fills  with  sea  water,  and, 
in  a  heavy  rain-storm,  with  rain  water.  In  a  calm  sea  this  is  not 
very  dangerous,  for  the  wooden  canoe  does  not  sink  ;  even  if 
swamped,  the  water  can  be  baled  out  and  the  canoe  floats  up. 
But  in  rough  weather,  a  water-logged  canoe  loses  its  buoyancy 
and  gets  broken  up.  Last  and  not  least,  there  is  the  danger  of 
the  canoe  being  pressed  into  the  water,  outrigger  first,  should 
the  wind  strike  it  on  the  opposite  side.  With  so  many  real 
dangers  around  it,  it  is  a  marvellous  thing,  and  to  the  credit  of 
native  seamanship,  that  accidents  are  comparatively  rare. 

We  now  know  about  the  crew  of  the  canoe  and  the  different 
functions  which  every  man  has  to  fulfil.  Remembering  what 
has  been  said  in  Chapter  IV,  Division  V,  about  the  sociological 
division  of  functions  in  sailing,  we  can  visualise  concretely  the 
craft  with  all  its  inmates,  as  it  sails  on  the  Pilolu  ;  the  toliwaga 
usually  sits  near  the  mast  in  the  compartment  called  kayguya'u. 
With  him  perhaps  is  one  of  his  sons  or  young  relatives,  while 
another  boy  remains  in  the  bows,  near  the  conch-shell  ready  to 
sound  it,  whenever  the  occasion  arises.  Thus  are  employed 
the  toliwaga  and  the  dodo'u  (small  boys).  The  usagelu  or 
members  of  the  crew,  some  four  or  five  strong,  are  each  at  his 
post,  with  perhaps  one  supernumerary  to  assist  at  any  emer- 
gency, where  the  task  would  require  it.  On  the  platform  are 
lounging  some  of  the  silasila,  the  youths  not  yet  employed  in 
any  work,  and  not  participating  in  the  Kula,  but  there  for  their 
pleasure,  and  to  learn  how  to  manage  a  boat  (see  Plate  XL). 


SAILING  ON  PILOLU  229 

III 

All  these  people  have  not  only  special  posts  and  modes  of 
occupation  assigned  to  them,  but  they  have  also  to  keep  certain 
rules.  The  canoe  on  a  Kula  expedition,  is  surrounded  by 
taboos,  and  many  observances  have  to  be  strictly  kept,  else 
this  or  that  might  go  wrong.  Thus  it  is  not  allowed  to  '  point 
to  objects  with  the  hand  '  (yosala  yamada),  or  those  who  do  it 
will  become  sick.  A  new  canoe  has  many  prohibitions  can- 
nected  with  it,  which  are  called  bomala  wayugo  (the  taboos  of 
the  lashing  creeper).  Eating  and  drinking  are  not  allowed  in  a 
new  canoe  except  after  sunset.  The  breaking  of  this  taboo 
would  make  the  canoe  very  slow.  On  a  very  quick  waga  this 
rule  might  perhaps  be  disregarded,  especially  if  one  of  the 
young  boys  were  hungry  or  thirsty.  The  toliwaga  would  then 
bale  in  some  sea-water,  pour  it  over  one  of  the  lashings  of  the 
creeper  with  the  words  : 

"I  sprinkle  thy  eye,  0  kudayuri  creeper,  so   that    our 
crew  might  eat." 

After  that,  he  would  give  the  boy  something  to  eat  and  drink. 
Besides  this  eating  and  drinking  taboo,  on  a  new  waga  the 
other  physiological  needs  must  not  be  satisfied.  In  case  of 
urgent  necessity,  a  man  jumps  into  the  water,  holding  to  one 
of  the  cross  sticks  of  the  outrigger,  or  if  it  were  a  small  boy,  he 
is  lowered  into  the  water  by  one  of  the  elders.  This  taboo,  if 
broken,  would  also  make  the  canoe  slow.  These  two  taboos, 
however,  as  was  said,  are  kept  only  on  a  new  waga,  that  is  on 
such  a  one  which  either  sails  for  the  first  time,  or  else  has  been 
relashed  and  repainted  before  this  trip.  The  taboos  are  in  all 
cases  not  operative  on  the  return  journey.  Women  are  not 
allowed  to  enter  a  new  waga  before  it  sails.  Certain  types  of 
yams  may  not  be  carried  on  a  canoe,  which  has  been  lashed 
with  the  rites  of  one  of  the  wayugo  magical  systems.  There 
are  several  systems  of  this  magic  (compare  Chapter  XVII, 
Division  VII)  and  each  has  got  its  specific  taboos.  These 
last  taboos  are  to  be  kept  right  through  the  sailing.  On  account 
of  a  magic  to  be  described  in  the  next  chapter,  the  magic  of 
safety  as  it  might  be  called,  a  canoe  has  to  be  kept  free  from 
contact  with  earth,  sand  and  stones.  Hence  the  natives  of 
Sinaketa  do  not  beach  their  canoes  if  they  can  possibly 
avoid  it. 


230  SAILING  ON  PILOLU 

Among  the  specific  taboos  of  the  Kula,  called  bomala  lilava 
(taboos  of  the  magical  bundle)  there  is  a  strict  rule  referring  to 
the  entering  of  a  canoe.  This  must  not  be  entered  from  any 
other  point  but  on  the  vitovaria,  that  is,  the  front  side  of  the 
platform,  facing  the  mast.  A  native  has  to  scale  the  platform 
at  this  place,  then,  crouching  low,  pass  to  the  back  or  front, 
and  there  descend  into  the  body  of  the  canoe,  or  sit  down*  where 
he  is.  The  compartment  facing  the  lilava  (magical  bundle)  is 
filled  out  with  other  trade  goods.  In  front  of  it  sits  the  chief, 
behind  it  the  man  who  handles  the  sheets.  The  natives  have 
special  expressions  which  denote  the  various  manners  of  illicitly 
entering  a  canoe,  and,  in  some  of  the  canoe  exorcisms,  these 
expressions  are  used  to  undo  the  evil  effects  of  the  breaking  of 
these  taboos.  Other  prohibitions,  which  the  natives  call  the 
taboo  of  the  mwasila,  though  not  associated  with  the  lilava, 
are  those  which  do  not  allow  of  using  flower  wreaths,  red 
ornaments,  or  red  flowers  in  decorating  the  canoe  or  the  bodies 
of  the  crew.  The  red  colour  of  such  ornaments  is,  according  to 
native  belief,  magically  incompatible  with  the  aim  of  the 
expedition — the  acquisition  of  the  red  spondylus  necklaces. 
Also,  yams  may  not  be  roasted  on  the  outward  journey,  while 
later  on,  in  Dobu,  no  local  food  may  be  eaten,  and  the  natives 
have  to  subsist  on  their  own  provisions,  until  the  first  Kula  gifts 
have  been  received. 

There  are,  besides,  definite  rules,  referring  to  the  behaviour 
of  one  canoe  towards  another,  but  these  vary  considerably  with 
the  different  villages.  In  Sinaketa,  such  rules  are  very  few  ; 
no  fixed  sequence  is  observed  in  the  sailing  order  of  the  canoes, 
anyone  of  them  can  start  first,  and  if  one  of  them  is  swifter  it 
may  pass  any  of  the  others,  even  that  of  a  chief.  This,  however, 
has  to  be  done  so  that  the  slower  canoe  is  not  passed  on  the 
outrigger  side.  Should  this  happen,  the  transgressing  canoe 
has  to  give  the  other  one  a  peace  offering  (lula),  because  it  has 
broken  a  bomala  lilava,  it  has  offended  the  magical  bundle. 

There  is  one  interesting  point  with  regard  to  priorities  in 
Sinaketa,  and  to  describe  this  we  must  hark  back  to  the 
subject  of  canoe-building  and  launching.  One  of  the  sub-clans 
of  the  Lukwasisiga  clan,  the  Tolabwaga  sub-clan,  have  the 
right  of  priority  in  all  the  successive  operations  of  piecing 
together,  lashing,  caulking,  and  painting  of  their  canoes.  All 
these  stages  of  building,  and  all  the  magic  must  first  be  done  on 


SAILING  ON  PILOLU  231 

the  Tolabwaga  canoe,  and  this  canoe  is  also  the  first  to  be 
launched.  Only  afterwards,  the  chief's  and  the  commoners' 
canoes  may  follow.  A  correct  observance  of  this  rule  '  keeps 
the  sea  clean  '  (imilakatile  bwarita).  If  it  were  broken,  and  the 
chiefs  had  their  canoes  built  or  launched  before  the  Tolabwaga, 
the  Kula  would  not  be  successful. 

"  We  go  to  Dobu,  no  pig,  no  soulava  necklace  is  given. 
We  would  tell  the  chiefs  :  '  Why  have  you  first  made  your 
canoes  ?  The  ancestor  spirits  have  turned  against  us, 
for  we  have  broken  the  old  custom  !  '  " 

Once  at  sea,  however,  the  chiefs  are  first  again,  in  theory  at 
least,  for  in  practice  the  swiftest  canoe  may  sail  first. 

In  the  sailing  custom  of  Vakuta,  the  other  South  Boyowan 
community,  who  make  the  Kula  with  the  Dobu,  a  sub-clan  of 
the  Lukwasisiga  clan,  called  Tolawaga,  have  the  privilege  of 
priority  in  all  the  canoe-building  operations.  While  at  sea, 
they  also  retain  one  prerogative,  denied  to  all  the  others  :  the 
man  who  steers  with  the  smaller  oar,  the  tokabina  viyoyu,  is 
allowed  permanently  to  stand  up  on  the  platform.  As  the 
natives  put  it, 

"  This  is  the  sign  of  the  Tolawaga  (sub-clan)  of  Vakuta  : 
wherever  we  see  a  man  standing  up  at  the  viyoyu,  we  say  : 
'  there  sails  the  canoe  of  the  Tolawaga  ! 

The  greatest  privileges,  however,  granted  to  a  sub-clan  in 
sailing  are  those  which  are  to  be  found  in  Kavataria.  This 
fishing  and  sailing  community  from  the  North  shore  of  the 
Lagoon  makes  distant  and  dangerous  sailings  to  the  North- 
Western  end  of  Fergusson  Island.  These  expeditions  for  sago, 
betel-nut,  and  pigs  will  be  described  in  Chapter  XXI.  Their 
sea  customs,  however,  have  to  be  mentioned  here. 

The  Kulutula  sub-clan  of  the  Lukwasisiga  clan  enjoy  all  the 
same  privileges  of  priority  in  building,  as  the  Tolabwaga  and 
Tolawaga  clans  in  the  southern  villages,  only  in  a  still  higher 
degree.  For  their  canoe  has  to  pass  each  stage  of  con- 
struction on  the  first  day,  and  only  the  day  after  can  the  others 
follow.  This  refers  even  to  launching,  the  Kulutula  canoe  being 
launched  one  day,  and  on  the  next  those  of  the  chiefs  and 
commoners.  When  the  moment  of  starting  arrives,  the 
Kulutula  canoe  leaves  the  beach  first,  and  during  the  sailing  no 
one  is  allowed  to  pass  ahead  of  it.  When  they  arrive  at  the 


232  SAILING  ON  PILOLU 

sandbanks  or  at  an  intermediate  place  in  the  Amphletts,  the 
Kulutula  have  to  anchor  first,  and  first  go  ashore  and  make 
their  camp  ready.  Only  after  that  can  the  others  follow. 
This  priority  expires  at  the  final  point  of  destination.  When 
they  arrive  at  the  furthest  Koya  the  Kulutula  go  ashore  first, 
and  they  are  the  first  to  be  presented  with  the  welcoming  gift 
of  the  '  foreigner  '  (tokinana).  He  receives  them  with  a-bunch 
of  betel-nut,  which  he  beats  against  the  head  of  the  canoe, 
till  the  nuts  scatter.  On  the  return  journey,  the  Kulutula  clan 
sink  again  into  their  naturally  inferior  position. 

It  may  be  noted  that  all  the  three  privileged  sub-clans  in 
the  three  villages  belong  to  the  Lukwasisiga  clan,  and  that 
the  names  of  two  of  them,  Tolawaga,  Tolabwaga  have  a  striking 
resemblance  to  the  word  toliwaga,  although  these  resemblances 
would  have  to  be  tested  by  some  stricter  methods  of  etymo- 
logical comparison,  than  I  have  now  at  my  disposal.  The  fact 
that  these  clans,  under  special  circumstances  of  sailing,  resume 
what  may  be  a  lost  superiority  points  to  an  interesting  historical 
survival,  The  name  Kulutula  is  undoubtedly  identical  with 
Kulutalu,  which  is  an  independent  totemic  clan  in  the  Eastern 
Marshall  Bennetts  and  in  Woodlark.* 


IV 

Let  us  return  now  to  our  Sinaketan  fleet,  moving  southwards 
along  the  barrier  reef  and  sighting  one  small  island  after  the 
other.  If  they  did  not  start  very  early  from  Muwa — and  delay 
is  one  of  the  characteristics  of  native  life — and  if  they  were  not 
favoured  with  a  very  good  wind,  they  would  probably  have 
to  put  in  at  one  of  the  small  sand  islands,  Legumatabu, 
Gabuwana  or  Yakum.  Here,  on  the  western  side,  sheltered 
from  the  prevalent  trade  winds,  there  is  a  diminutive  lagoon, 
bounded  by  two  natural  breakwaters  of  coral  reef  running  from 
the  Northern  and  Southern  ends  of  the  island.  Fires  are  lit  on 
the  clean,  white  sand,  under  the  scraggy  pandanus  trees,  and 
the  natives  boil  their  yam  food  and  the  eggs  of  the  wild  sea  fowl, 
collected  on  the  spot.  When  darkness  closes  in  and  the  fires 
draw  them  all  into  a  circle,  the  Kula  talk  begins  again. 

*  At  a  later  date,  I  hope  to  work  out  certain  historical  hypotheses  with 
regard  to  migrations  and  cultural  strata  in  Eastern  New  Guinea.  A  consider- 
able number  of  independent  indices  seem  to  corroborate  certain  simple 
hypotheses  as  to  the  stratification  of  the  various  cultural  elements. 


SAILING  ON  PILOLU  233 

Let  us  listen  to  some  such  conversations,  and  try  to  steep 
ourselves  in  the  atmosphere  surrounding  this  handful  of  natives, 
cast  for  a  while  on  to  the  narrow  sandbank,  far  away  from  their 
homes,  having  to  trust  only  to  their  frail  canoes  on  the  long 
journey  which  faces  them.  Darkness,  the  roar  of  surf  breaking 
on  the  reef,  the  dry  rattle  of  the  pandanus  leaves  in  the  wind, 
all  produce  a  frame  of  mind  in  which  it  is  easy  to  believe  in  the 
dangers  of  witches  and  all  the  beings  usually  hidden  away,  but 
ready  to  creep  out  at  some  special  moment  of  horror.  The 
change  of  tone  is  unmistakable,  when  you  get  the  natives  to 
talk  about  these  things  on  such  an  occasion,  from  the  calm, 
often  rationalistic  way  of  treating  them  in  broad  daylight  in  an 
Ethnographer's  tent.  Some  of  the  most  striking  revelations 
I  have  received  of  this  side  of  native  belief  and  psychology 
were  made  to  me  on  similar  occasions.  Sitting  on  a  lonely 
beach  in  Sanaroa,  surrounded  by  a  crew  of  Trobrianders, 
Dobuans,  and  a  few  local  natives,  I  first  heard  the  story  of  the 
jumping  stones.  On  a  previous  night,  trying  to  anchor  oft 
Gumasila  in  the  Amphletts,  we  had  been  caught  by  a  violent 
squall,  which  tore  one  of  our  sails,  and  forced  us  to  run  before 
the  wind,  on  a  dark  night,  in  the  pouring  rain  Except  for  my- 
self, all  the  members  of  the  crew  saw  clearly  the  flying  witches 
in  the  form  of  a  flame  at  the  mast  head.  Whether  this  was  St. 
Elmo's  fire  I  could  not  judge,  as  I  was  in  the  cabin,  seasick  and 
indifferent  to  dangers,  witches,  and  even  ethnographic  revela- 
tions. Inspired  by  this  incident,  my  crew  told  me  how  this  is,  as 
a  rule,  a  sign  of  disaster,  how  such  a  light  appeared  a  few  years 
ago  in  a  boat,  which  was  sunk  almost  on  the  same  spot  where  the 
squall  had  caught  us ;  but  fortunately  all  were  saved.  Starting 
from  this,  all  sorts  of  dangers  were  spoken  about,  in  a 
tone  of  deep  conviction,  rendered  perfectly  sincere  by 
the  experiences  of  the  previous  night,  the  surrounding 
darkness,  and  the  difficulties  of  the  situation — for  we  had 
to  repair  our  sail  and  again  attempt  the  difficult  landing  in 
the  Amphletts. 

I  have  always  found  that  whenever  natives  are  found  under 
similar  circumstances,  surrounded  by  the  darkness  and  the 
imminent  possibility  of  danger,  they  naturally  drift  into  a  con- 
versation about  the  various  things  and  beings  into  which  the 
fears  and  apprehensions  of  generations  have  traditionally 
crystallised. 


234  SAILING  ON  PILOLU 

Thus  if  we  imagine  that  we  listen  to  an  account  of  the  perils 
and  horrors  of  the  seas,  sitting  round  the  fire  at  Yakum  or 
Legumatabu,  we  do  not  stray  from  reality.  One  of  those  who 
are  specially  versed  in  tradition,  and  who  love  to  tell  a  story, 
might  refer  to  one  of  his  own  experiences  ;  or  to  a  well-known 
case  from  the  past,  while  others  would  chime  in,  and  comment, 
telling  their  own  stories.  General  statements  of  beliel  would 
be  given,  while  the  younger  men  would  listen  to  the  tales  so 
familiar,  but  always  heard  with  renewed  interest. 

They  would  hear  about  an  enormous  octopus  (kwita)  which 
lies  in  wait  for  canoes,  sailing  over  the  open  seas.  It  is  not  an 
ordinary  kwita  of  exceptional  size,  but  a  special  one,  so  gigantic 
that  it  would  cover  a  whole  village  with  its  body  ;  its  arms  are 
thick  as  coco-nut  palms,  stretching  right  across  the  sea.  With 
typical  exaggeration,  the  natives  will  say :  '  ikanubwadi 
Pilolu,'  .  .  .  '  he  covers  up  all  the  Pilolu  '  (the  sea-arm 
between  the  Trobriands  and  the  Amphletts).  Its  proper  home 
is  in  the  East, '  o  Muyuwa,'  as  the  natives  describe  that  region 
of  sea  and  islands,  where  also  it  is  believed  some  magic  is  known 
against  the  dreadful  creature.  Only  seldom  does  it  come  to  the 
waters  between  the  Trobriands  and  Amphletts,  but  there  are 
people  who  have  seen  it  there.  One  of  the  old  men  of  Sinaketa 
tells  how,  coming  from  Dobu,  when  he  was  quite  young,  he 
sailed  in  a  canoe  ahead  of  the  fleet,  some  canoes  being  to  the 
right  and  some  to  the  left  behind  him.  Suddenly  from  his 
canoe,  they  saw  the  giant  kwita  right  in  front  of  them. 
Paralysed  with  fear,  they  fell  silent,  and  the  man  himself, 
getting  up  on  the  platform,  by  signs  warned  the  other  canoes  of 
the  danger.  At  once  they  turned  round,  and  the  fleet  divided 
into  two,  took  big  bends  in  their  course,  and  thus  gave  the 
octopus  a  wide  berth.  For  woe  to  the  canoe  caught  by  the 
giant  kwita  !  It  would  be  held  fast,  unable  to  move  for  days, 
till  the  crew,  dying  of  hunger  and  thirst,  would  decide  to 
sacrifice  one  of  the  small  boys  of  their  number.  Adorned  with 
valuables,  he  would  be  thrown  overboard,  and  then  the  kwita, 
satisfied,  would  let  go  its  hold  of  the  canoe,  and  set  it  free. 
Once  a  native,  asked  why  a  grown-up  would  not  be  sacrificed 
on  such  an  occasion,  gave  me  the  answer  : 

"  A  grown-up  man  would  not  like  it  ;  a  boy  has  got  no 
mind.  We  take  him  by  force  and  throw  him  to  the 
kwita." 


SAILING  ON  PILOLU  235 

Another  danger  threatening  a  canoe  on  the  high  seas,  is  a 
big,  special  Rain,  or  Water  falling  from  above,  called 
Sinamatanoginogi.  When  in  rain  and  bad  weather  a  canoe,  in 
spite  of  all  the  efforts  to  bale  it  out,  fills  with  water,  Sina- 
matanoginogi strikes  it  from  above  and  breaks  it  up.  Whether 
at  the  basis  of  this  are  the  accidents  with  waterspouts,  or  cloud- 
bursts or  simply  extremely  big  waves  breaking  up  the  canoe, 
it  is  difficult  to  judge.  On  the  whole,  this  belief  is  more  easily 
accounted  for  than  the  previous  one. 

The  most  remarkable  of  these  beliefs  is  that  there  are  big, 
live  stones,  which  lie  in  wait  for  sailing  canoes,  run  after  them, 
jump  up  and  smash  them  to  pieces.  Whenever  the  natives 
have  reasons  to  be  afraid  of  them,  all  the  members  of  the  crew 
will  keep  silence,  as  laughter  and  loud  talk  attracts  them. 
Sometimes  they  can  be  seen,  at  a  distance,  jumping  out  of  the 
sea  or  moving  on  the  water.  In  fact  I  have  had  them  pointed 
to  me,  sailing  off  Koyatabu,  and  although  I  could  see  nothing, 
the  natives,  obviously,  genuinely  believed  they  saw  them.  Of 
one  thing  I  am  certain,  however,  that  there  was  no  reef  awash 
there  for  miles  around.  The  natives  also  know  quite  well  that 
they  are  different  from  any  reefs  or  shallows,  for  the  live  stones 
move,  and  when  they  perceive  a  canoe  will  pursue  it,  break  it 
up  on  purpose  and  smash  the  men.  Nor  would  these  expert 
fishermen  ever  confuse  a  jumping  fish  with  anything  else, 
though  in  speaking  of  the  stones  they  may  compare  them  to 
a  leaping  dolphin  or  stingaree. 

There  are  two  names  given  to  such  stones.  One  of  them, 
nuwakekepaki ,  applies  to  the  stones  met  in  the  Dobuan  seas. 
The  other,  vineylida,  to  those  who  live  '  o  Muyuwa/  Thus,  in 
the  open  seas,  the  two  spheres  of  culture  meet,  for  the  stones  not 
only  differ  in  name  but  also  in  nature.  The  nuwakekepaki  are 
probably  nothing  but  malevolent  stones.  The  vineyhda  are 
inhabited  by  witches,  or  according  to  others,  by  evil  male 
beings.*  Sometimes  a  vineylida  will  spring  to  the  surface, 
and  hold  fast  the  canoe,  very  much  in  the  same  manner  as  the 
giant  octopus  would  do,  And  here  again  offerings  would  have 
to  be  given.  A  folded  mat  would  first  be  thrown,  in  an  attempt 
to  deceive  it  ;  if  this  were  of  no  avail,  a  little  boy  would  be 
anointed  with  coco-nut  oil,  adorned  with  arm-shells  and  bagt 
necklaces,  and  thrown  over  to  the  evil  stones. 

•  The  word  vineylida  suggests  the  former  belief,  as  vine — fetnale,/t<tfa-coraJ  stono. 


236  SAILING  ON  PILOLU 

It  is  difficult  to  realise  what  natural  phenomena  or  actual 
occurrences  might  be  at  the  bottom  of  this  belief,  and  the 
one  of  the  giant  octopus.  We  shall  presently  meet  with  a 
cycle  of  beliefs  presenting  the  same  striking  features.  We 
shall  find  a  story  told  about  human  behaviour  mixed  up  with 
supernatural  elements,  laying  down  the  rules  of  what  would 
happen,  and  how  human  beings  would  behave,  in  the"  same 
matter  of  fact  way,  as  if  ordinary  events  of  tribal  life  were 
described.  I  shall  have  to  comment  on  the  psychology  of  these 
beliefs  in  the  next  chapter,  where  also  the  story  is  told.  Of 
all  the  dangerous  and  frightful  beings  met  with  on  a  sailing 
expedition,  the  most  unpleasant,  the  best  known  and  most 
dreaded  are  the  flying  witches,  the  yoyova  or  mulukwausi. 
The  former  name  means  a  woman  endowed  with  such  powers, 
whereas  mulukwausi  describes  the  second  self  of  the  woman, 
as  it  flies  disembodied  through  the  air.  Thus,  for  instance, 
they  would  say  that  such  and  such  a  woman  in  Wawela  is  a 
yoyova.  But  sailing  at  night,  one  would  have  to  be  on  the  look 
out  for  mulukwausi,  among  whom  might  possibly  be  the  double 
of  that  woman  in  Wawela.  Very  often,  especially  at  moments 
when  the  speaker  would  be  under  the  influence  of  fear  of  these 
beings,  the  deprecating  euphemism — '  vivila  '  (women)  would 
be  used.  And  probably  our  Boyowan  mariners  would  speak 
of  them  thus  in  their  talk  round  the  campfire,  for  fear  of 
attracting  them  by  sounding  their  real  name.  Dangerous 
as  they  always  are,  at  sea  they  become  infinitely  more  dreaded, 
For  the  belief  is  deep  that  in  case  of  shipwreck  or  mishap  at 
sea,  no  real  evil  can  befall  the  crows  except  by  the  agency  of  the 
dreaded  women. 

As  through  their  connection  with  shipwreck,  they  enter 
inevitably  into  our  narrative,  it  will  be  better  to  leave  our 
Kula  expedition  on  the  beach  of  Yakum  in  the  midst  of  Pilolu, 
and  to  turn  in  the  next  chapter  to  Kiriwinian  ethnography  and 
give  there  an  account  of  the  natives1  belief  in  the  flying 
witches  and  their  legend  of  shipwreck, 


CHAPTER  X 
THE  STORY  OF  SHIPWRECK 

I 

IN  this  chapter  an  account  will  be  given  of  the  ideas  and 
beliefs  associated  with  shipwreck,  and  of  the  various  pre- 
cautions which  the  natives  take  to  insure  their  own  safety. 
We  shall  find  here  a  strange  mixture  of  definite,  matter  of  fact 
information,  and  of  fantastic  superstitions.  Taking  a  critical, 
ethnographic  side  view,  it  may  be  said  directly  that  the  fanciful 
elements  are  intertwined  with  the  realities  in  such  a  manner, 
that  it  is  difficult  to  make  a  distinction  between  what  is  mere 
mytho-poetic  fiction  and  what  is  a  customary  rule  of  behaviour, 
drawn  from  actual  experience.  The  best  way  of  presenting 
this  material  will  be  to  give  a  consecutive  account  of  a  ship- 
wreck, as  it  is  told  in  Kiriwinian  villages  by  the  travelled  old 
men  to  the  younger  generation.  I  shall  adduce  in  it  the 
several  magical  formulae,  the  rules  of  behaviour,  the  part  played 
by  the  miraculous  fish,  and  the  complex  ritual  of  the  saved 
party  as  they  flee  from  the  pursuing  mulukwausi. 

These — the  flying  witches — will  play  such  an  important 
part  in  the  account,  that  I  must  begin  with  a  detailed  descrip- 
tion of  the  various  beliefs  referring  to  them,  though  the  subject 
has  been  touched  upon  once  or  twice  before  (Chapter  II, 
Division  VII,  and  other  places).  The  sea  and  sailing  upon  it 
are  intimately  associated  in  the  mind  of  a  Boyowan  with  these 
women.  They  had  to  be  mentioned  in  the  description  of  canoe 
magic,  and  we  shall  see  what  an  important  part  they  play  in 
the  legends  of  canoe  building.  In  his  sailing,  whether  he  goes 
to  Kitava  or  further  East,  or  whether  he  travels  South  to  the 
Amphletts  and  Dobu,  they  form  one  of  the  main  preoccupations 
of  a  Boyowan  sailor.  For  they  are  not  only  dangerous  to  him, 
but  to  a  certain  extent,  foreign.  Boyowa,  with  the  exception 
of  Wawela  and  one  or  two  other  villages  on  the  Eastern  coast, 

as? 


238  SHIPWRECK 

and  in  the  South  of  the  island,  is  an  ethnographic  district, 
where  the  flying  witches  do  not  exist,  although  they  visit  it 
from  time  to  time.  Whereas  all  the  surrounding  tribes  are  full 
of  women  who  practice  this  form  of  sorcery.  Thus  sailing  South, 
the  Boyowan  is  travelling  straight  into  the  heart  of  their  domain. 

These  women  have  the  power  of  making  themselves  invisible, 
and  flying  at  night  through  the  air.  The  orthodox  belief  is 
that  a  woman  who  is  a  yoyova  can  send  forth  a  double  which  is 
invisible  at  will,  but  may  appear  in  the  form  of  a  flying  fox  or  of  a 
night  bird  or  a  firefly.  There  is  also  a  belief  that  a  yoyova  develops 
within  her  a  something,  shaped  like  an  egg,  or  like  a  young, 
unripe  coco-nut.  This  something  is  called  as  a  matter  of  fact 
kapuwana,  which  is  the  word  for  a  small  coco-nut.*  This  idea 
remains  in  the  native's  mind  in  a  vague,  indefinite,  undifferen- 
tiated  form,  and  any  attempt  to  elicit  a  more  detailed  definition 
by  asking  him  such  questions,  as  to  whether  the  kapuwana  is  a 
material  object  or  not,  would  be  to  smuggle  our  own  categories 
into  his  belief,  where  they  do  not  exist.  The  kapuwana  is  any- 
how believed  to  be  the  something  which  in  the  nightly  flights 
leaves  the  body  of  the  yoyova  and  assumes  the  various  forms 
in  which  the  mulukwausi  appears.  Another  variant  of  the 
belief  about  the  yoyova  is,  that  those  who  know  their  magic 
especially  well,  can  fly  themselves,  bodily  transporting  them- 
selves through  the  air. 

But  it  can  never  be  sufficiently  emphasised  that  all  these 
beliefs  cannot  be  treated  as  consistent  pieces  of  knowledge  ; 
they  flow  into  one  another,  and  even  the  same  native  probably 
holds  several  views  rationally  inconsistent  with  one  another. 
Even  their  terminology  (compare  the  last  Division  of  the  fore- 
going chapter),  cannot  be  taken  as  implying  a  strict  distinction 
or  definition.  Thus,  the  word  yoyova  is  applied  to  the  woman 
as  we  meet  her  in  the  village,  and  the  word  mulukwausi  will  be 
used  when  we  see  something  suspicious  flying  through  the  air. 
But  it  would  be  incorrect  to  systematise  this  use  into  a  sort  of 
doctrine  and  to  say  :  "An  individual  woman  is  conceived  as 
consisting  of  an  actual  living  personality  called  yoyova,  and  of 

*  Professor  Sehgman  has  described  the  belief  in  similar  beings  on  the 
North-East  Coast  of  New  Guinea.  At  Gelaria,  inland  of  Bartle  Bay,  the  flying 
witches  can  produce  a  double,  or  "  sending,"  which  they  call  labum.  *'  Labum 
exists  within  women,  and  can  be  commanded  by  any  woman  who  has  had 
children,  ...  It  was  said  that  the  labum  existed  in,  or  was  denved  from, 
an  organ  called  ipona,  situated  in  the  flank,  and  literally  meaning  egg  or  eggs  " 
op.  cU.t  p.  640.  The  equivalence  of  beliefs  here  is  evident. 


SHIPWRECK  239 

an  immaterial,  spiritual  principle  called  mulukwausi,  which  in 
its  potential  form  is  the  kapuwana."  In  doing  this  we  would 
do  much  what  the  Mediaeval  Scholastics  did  to  the  living  faith 
of  the  early  ages.  The  native  feels  and  fears  his  belief  rather 
than  formulates  it  clearly  to  himself.  He  uses  terms  and 
expressions,  and  thus,  as  used  by  him,  we  must  collect  them 
as  documents  of  belief,  but  abstain  from  working  them  out  into 
a  consistent  theory  ;  for  this  represents  neither  the  native's 
mind  nor  any  other  form  of  reality. 

As  we  remember  from  Chapter  II,  the  flying  witches  are  a 
nefarious  agency,  second  in  importance  to  the  bwaga'u  (male 
sorcerer),  but  in  efficiency  far  more  deadly  even  than  he  himself. 
In  contrast  to  the  bwaga'u,  who  is  simply  a  man  in  possession  of 
a  special  form  of  magic,  the  yoyova  have  to  be  gradually  initiated 
into  their  status.  Only  a  small  child,  whose  mother  is  a  witch, 
can  become  a  witch  herself.  When  a  witch  gives  birth  to  a 
female  child,  she  medicates  a  piece  of  obsidian,  and  cuts  off  the 
navel  string.  The  navel  string  is  then  buried,  with  the  recital 
of  a  magical  formula,  in  the  house,  and  not,  as  is  done  in  all 
ordinary  cases,  in  the  garden.  Soon  after,  the  witch  will  carry 
her  daughter  to  the  sea  beach,  utter  a  spell  over  some  brine  in  a 
coco-nut  cup,  and  give  the  child  to  drink.  After  that,  the 
child  is  submerged  in  water  and  washed,  a  kind  of  witch's 
baptism  !  Then  she  brings  back  the  baby  into  the  house, 
utters  a  spell  over  a  mat,  and  folds  her  up  in  it.  At  night,  she 
carries  the  baby  through  the  air,  and  goes  to  a  trysting  place  of 
other  yoyova,  where  she  presents  her  child  ritually  to  them. 
In  contrast  to  the  usual  custom  of  young  mothers  of  sleeping 
over  a  small  fire,  a  sorceress  lies  with  her  baby  in  the  cold. 
As  the  child  grows  up,  the  mother  will  take  it  into  her  arms  and 
carry  it  through  the  air  on  her  nightly  rounds.  Entering 
girlhood  at  the  age  when  the  first  grass  skirt  is  put  on  a 
maiden,  the  little  prospective  witch  will  begin  to  fly  herself. 

Another  system  of  training,  running  side  by  side  with 
flying,  consists  in  accustoming  the  child  to  participation  in 
human  flesh.  Even  before  the  growing  witch  will  begin  to  fly 
on  her  own  account,  the  mother  will  take  her  to  the  ghoulish 
repasts,  where  she  and  other  witches  sit  over  a  corpse,  eating 
its  eyes,  tongue,  lungs,  and  entrails.  There  the  little  girl 
receives  her  first  share  of  corpse  flesh,  and  trains  her  taste  to 
like  this  diet. 


240  SHIPWRECK 

There  are  other  forms  of  training  ascribed  to  mothers 
solicitous  that  their  daughters  should  grow  up  into  efficient 
yoyova  and  mulukwausi.  At  night  the  mother  will  stand  on 
one  side  of  the  hut,  with  the  child  in  her  hands,  and  throw 
the  little  one  over  the  roof.  Then  quickly,  with  the  speed 
only  possible  to  a  yoyova,  she  will  move  round,  and  catch  the 
child  on  the  other  side.  This  happens  before  the  child  begins  to 
fly,  and  is  meant  to  accustom  it  to  passing  rapidly  through  the 
air.  Or  again,  the  child  will  be  held  by  her  feet,  head  down, 
and  remain  in  this  position  while  the  mother  utters  a  spell. 
Thus  gradually,  by  all  these  means,  the  child  acquires  the 
powers  and  tastes  of  a  yoyova. 

It  is  easy  to  pick  out  such  girls  from  other  children.  They 
will  be  recognisable  by  their  crude  tastes,  and  more  especially 
by  their  habit  of  eating  raw  flesh  of  pigs  or  uncooked  fish. 
And  here  we  come  to  a  point,  where  mythical  superstition  plays 
over  into  something  more  real,  for  I  have  been  assured  by  reli- 
able informants,  and  those  not  only  natives,  that  there  are  cases 
of  girls  who  will  show  a  craving  for  raw  meat,  and  when  a  pig  is 
being  quartered  in  the  village  will  drink  its  blood  and  tear  up 
its  flesh.  These  statements  I  never  could  verify  by  direct 
observations,  and  they  may  be  only  the  result  of  very  strong 
belief  projecting  its  own  realities,  as  we  see  on  every  side  in  our 
own  society  in  miraculous  cures,  spiritistic  phenomena,  etc., 
etc.  If,  however,  the  eating  of  raw  flesh  by  girl  children  really 
occurs,  this  simply  means  that  they  play  up  to  what  they  know 
is  said  and  believed  about  them.  This  again  is  a  phenomenon 
of  social  pyschology  met  with  in  many  phases  of  Trobriand 
society  and  in  our  own. 

This  does  not  mean  that  the  character  of  &  yoyova  is  publicly 
donned.  Indeed,  though  a  man  often  owns  up  to  the  fact  that 
he  is  a  bwaga'u,  and  treats  his  speciality  quite  openly  in  con- 
versation, a  woman  will  never  directly  confess  to  being  a 
yoyova,  not  even  to  her  own  husband.  But  she  will  certainly 
be  marked  by  everyone  as  such  a  one,  and  she  will  often  play 
up  to  the  role,  for  it  is  always  an  advantage  to  be  supposed  to 
be  endowed  with  supernatural  powers.  And  moreover,  being  a 
sorceress  is  also  a  good  source  of  income.  A  woman  will  often 
receive  presents  with  the  understanding  that  such  and  such 
a  person  has  to  be  injured.  She  will  openly  take  gifts, 
avowedly  in  payment  for  healing  someone  who  has  been  hurt  by 


SHIPWRECK  241 

another  witch.  Thus  the  character  of  a  yoyova  is,  in  a  way,  a 
public  one  and  the  most  important  and  powerful  witches  will 
be  enumerated  by  name.  But  no  woman  will  ever  openly 
speak  about  being  one.  Of  course  to  have  such  a  character 
would  in  no  way  spoil  matrimonial  chances,  or  do  anything  but 
enhance  the  social  status  of  a  woman. 

So  deep  is  the  belief  in  the  efficacy  of  magic,  and  in  magic 
being  the  only  means  of  acquiring  extraordinary  faculties,  that 
all  powers  of  a  yoyova  are  attributed  to  magic.  As  we  saw  in 
the  training  of  a  young  yoyova,  magic  has  to  be  spoken  at  every 
stage  in  order  to  impart  to  her  the  character  of  a  witch.  A  full 
blown  yoyova  has  to  utter  special  magic  each  time  she  wishes  to 
be  invisible,  or  when  she  wants  to  fly,  or  acquire  higher  speed, 
or  penetrate  darkness  and  distance  in  order  to  find  out  whether 
an  accident  is  happening  there.  But  like  everything  referring 
to  this  form  of  witchcraft,  these  formulae  never  come  to  light. 
Although  I  was  able  to  acquire  a  whole  body  of  spells  of  the 
bwaga'u  sorcery,  I  could  not  even  lift  the  fringe  of  the  impene- 
trable veil,  surrounding  the  magic  of  the  yoyova.  As  a  matter 
of  fact,  there  is  not  the  slightest  doubt  for  me  that  not  one  single 
rite,  not  one  single  word  of  this  magic,  have  ever  existed. 

Once  a  mulukwausi  is  fully  trained  in  her  craft,  she  will 
often  go  at  night  to  feed  on  corpses  or  to  destroy  shipwrecked 
mariners,  for  these  are  her  two  main  pursuits.  By  a  special 
sense,  acquired  through  magic,  she  can  '  hear,'  as  the  natives 
say,  that  a  man  has  died  at  such  and  such  a  place,  or  that  a 
canoe  is  in  danger.  Even  a  young  apprenticed  yoyova  will 
have  her  hearing  so  sharpened  that  she  will  tell  her  mother  : 
"  Mother,  I  hear,  they  cry  !  "  Which  means  that  a  man  is 
dead  or  dying  at  some  place.  Or  she  will  say  :  "  Mother,  a 
waga  is  sinking  !  "  And  then  they  both  will  fly  to  the  spot. 

When  she  goes  out  on  such  an  errand,  the  yoyova  leaves  her 
body  behind.  Then  she  climbs  a  tree,  and  reciting  some  magic, 
she  ties  a  creeper  to  it.  Then,  she  flies  off,  along  this  creeper, 
which  snaps  behind  her.  This  is  the  moment  when  we  see  the 
fire  flying  through  the  sky.  Whenever  the  natives  see  a  falling 
star,  they  know  it  is  a  mulukwausi  on  her  flight.  Another 
version  is  that,  when  a  mulukwausi  recites  a  certain  spell,  a 
tree  which  stands  somewhere  near  her  destination  bends  down 
towards  the  other  tree  on  which  she  is  perched.  She  jumps  from 
one  top  to  the  other,  and  it  is  then  that  we  see  the  fire.  According 


242  SHIPWRECK 

to  some  versions,  the  mulukwausi,  that  is,  the  witch  in  her 
flying  state,  moves  about  naked,  leaving  her  skirt  round  the 
body,  which  remains  asleep  in  the  hut.  Other  versions  depict 
her  as  tying  her  skirt  tightly  round  her  when  flying,  and  beating 
her  buttocks  with  a  magical  pandanus  streamer.  These  latter 
versions  are  embodied  in  the  magic  quoted  above  in  Chapter  V. 

Arrived  at  the  place  where  lies  the  corpse,  the  mulukwausi, 
with  others  who  have  also  flown  to  the  spot,  perches  on  some 
high  object,  the  top  of  a  tree  or  the  gable  of  a  hut.  There 
they  all  wait  till  they  can  feast  on  the  corpse,  and  such  is  their 
greed  and  appetite  that  they  are  also  very  dangerous  to  living 
men.  People  who  collect  round  the  dead  body  to  mourn  and 
wake  over  it  often  have  a  special  spell  against  the  mulukwausi 
recited  over  them,  by  the  one  who  knows  it.  They  are  careful 
not  to  stray  away  from  the  others,  and,  during  burial  of  the 
dead  and  afterwards,  they  believe  the  air  to  be  infested  with 
these  dangerous  witches,  who  spread  the  smell  of  carrion  around 
them. 

The  mulukwausi  will  eat  out  the  eyes,  the  tongue,  and 
the  '  insides  '  (lopoula)  of  the  corpse  ;  when  they  attack  a 
living  man  they  may  simply  hit  him  or  kick  him,  and  then  he 
becomes  more  or  less  sick.  But  sometimes  they  get  hold  of  an 
individual  and  treat  him  like  a  corpse  and  eat  some  of  his  organs, 
and  then  the  man  dies.  It  is  possible  to  diagnose  this,  for  such 
a  person  would  quickly  fail,  losing  his  speech,  his  vision, 
sometimes  suddenly  being  bereft  of  all  power  of  movement. 
It  is  a  less  dangerous  method  to  the  living  man  when  the 
mulukwausi  instead  of  eating  his  '  insides  '  on  the  spot,  simply 
remove  them.  They  hide  them  in  a  place  only  known  to  them- 
selves, in  order  to  have  provision  for  a  future  feast.  In  that 
case  there  is  some  hope  for  the  victim.  Another  yoyova, 
summoned  quickly  by  the  relations  of  the  dying  and  well  paid 
by  them,  will,  in  the  form  of  a  mulukwausi,  go  forth,  search  for 
.the  missing  organs,  and,  if  she  is  fortunate  enough  to  find  and 
restore  them,  save  the  life  of  the  victim. 

Kenoriya,  the  favourite  daughter  of  To'ulawa,  the  chief  of 
Omarakana,  while  on  a  visit  to  another  village,  was  deprived  of 
her  internal  organs  by  the  mulukwausi.  When  brought  home, 
she  could  neither  move  nor  speak,  and  lay  down  as  if  dead.  Her 
mother  and  other  relatives  already  began  their  mortuary  wailing 
over  her,  the  chief  himself  broke  out  into  loud  lamentations. 


SHIPWRECK  243 

But  nevertheless,  as  a  forlorn  hope,  they  sent  for  a  woman 
from  Wawela,  a  well-known,  yoyova,  who  after  receiving 
valuables  and  food,  flew  out  as  a  mulukwausi,  and  the  very  next 
night  found  Kenoriya's  insides  somewhere  in  the  raybwag, 
near  the  beach  of  Kaulukuba,  and  restored  her  to  health. 

Another  authentic  story  is  that  of  the  daughter  of  a  Greek 
trader  and  a  Kiriwinian  woman  from  Oburaku.  This  story 
was  told  me  by  the  lady  herself,  in  perfectly  correct  English, 
learnt  in  one  of  the  white  settlements  of  New  Guinea,  where  she 
had  been  brought  up  in  the  house  of  a  leading  missionary. 
But  the  story  was  not  spoilt  by  any  scepticism  ;  it  was  told 
with  perfect  simplicity  and  conviction. 

When  she  was  a  little  girl,  a  woman  called  Sewawela,  from 
the  Island  of  Kitava,  but  married  to  a  man  of  Wawela,  came  to 
her  parents'  house  and  wanted  to  sell  a  mat.  They  did  not  buy 
it,  and  gave  her  only  a  little  food,  which,  as  she  was  a  renowned 
yoyova  and  accustomed  therefore  to  deferential  treatment, 
made  her  angry.  When  night  came,  the  little  one  was  playing 
on  the  beach  in  front  of  the  house,  when  the  parents  saw  a  big 
firefly  hovering  about  the  child.  The  insect  then  flew  round 
the  parents  and  went  into  the  room.  Seeing  that  there  was 
something  strange  about  the  firefly,  they  called  the  girl  and  put 
her  to  bed  at  once.  But  she  fell  ill  immediately,  could  not  sleep 
all  night,  and  the  parents,  with  many  native  attendants,  had  to 
keep  watch  over  her.  Next  morning,  added  the  Kiriwinian 
mother,  who  was  listening  to  her  daughter  telling  me  the  tale, 
the  girl  "  boge  ikarige  ;  kukula  wala  ipipisi,"  "  she  was  dead 
already,  but  her  heart  was  still  beating."  All  the  women 
present  broke  out  into  the  ceremonial  lamentations.  The 
father  of  .the  girl's  mother,  however,  went  to  Wawela,  and  got 
hold  of  another  yoyova,  called  Bomrimwari.  She  took  some 
herbs  and  smeared  her  own  body  all  over.  Then  she  went  out 
in  the  form  of  a  mulukwausi  in  search  of  the  girl's  lopoulo 
(inside).  She  searched  about  and  found  it  in  the  hut  of 
Sewawela,  where  it  lay  on  the  shelf  on  which  are  kept  the  big 
clay-pots,  in  which  the  mona  (taro  pudding),  is  cooked  cere- 
monially. There  it  lay  "  red  as  calico."  Sewawela  had  left 
it  there,  while  she  went  into  the  garden  with  her  husband, 
meaning  to  eat  it  on  her  return.  Had  this  happened,  the  girl 
could  not  have  been  saved.  As  soon  as  Bomrimwari  found  it, 
she  made  some  magic  over  it  then  and  there.  Then  she  came 


244  SHIPWRECK 

back  to  the  trader's  compound,  made  some  more  magic  over 
ginger-root,  and  water,  and  caused  the  lopoulo  to  return  to  its 
place.  After  that,  the  little  girl  soon  got  better.  A  substantial 
payment  was  given  by  the  parents  to  the  yoyova  for  saving  their 
child. 

Living  in  Oburaku,  a  village  on  the  Southern  half  of  Boyowa, 
I  was  on  the  boundary  between  the  district  where  the  yoyova  do 
not  exist,  and  the  other  one,  to  the  East,  where  they  are 
plentiful.  On  the  other  side  of  the  Island,  which  is  very  narrow 
at  this  part,  is  the  village  of  Wawela,  where  almost  every 
woman  is  reputed  to  be  a  witch,  and  some  are  quite  notorious. 
Going  over  the  raybwag  at  night,  the  natives  of  Oburaku  would 
point  out  certain  fireflies  which  would  suddenly  disappear,  not 
to  relight  again.  These  were  the  mulukwausi.  Again,  at 
night,  swarms  of  flying  foxes  used  to  flap  over  the  tall  trees, 
making  for  the  big,  swampy  Island  of  Boymapo'u  which  closes 
in  the  Lagoon  opposite  the  village.  These  too  were  muluk- 
wausi,  travelling  from  the  East,  their  real  home.  They  also 
used  to  perch  on  the  tops  of  the  trees  growing  on  the  water's 
edge,  and  this  was  therefore  an  especially  dangerous  spot  after 
sunset.  I  was  often  warned  not  to  sit  there  on  the  platforms 
of  the  beached  canoes,  as  I  liked  to  do,  watching  the  play  of 
colours  on  the  smooth,  muddy  waters,  and  on  the  bright 
mangroves.  When  I  fell  ill  soon  after,  everybody  decided  that 
I  had  been  '  kicked  '  by  the  mulukwausi,  and  some  magic  was 
performed  over  rne  by  my  friend  Molilakwa,  the  same  who  gave 
me  some  formulae  of  kayga'u,  the  magic  spoken  at  sea  against 
witches.  In  this  case  his  efforts  were  entirely  successful,  and 
my  quick  recovery  was  attributed  by  the  natives  solely  to  the 
spells. 

II 

What  interests  us  most  about  mulukwausi,  is  their  associa- 
tion with  the  sea  and  shipwreck.  Very  often  they  will  roam 
over  the  sea,  and  meet  at  a  trysting  place  on  a  reef.  There 
they  will  partake  of  a  special  kind  of  coral,  broken  off  from  a 
reef,  a  kind  called  by  the  natives  nada.  This  whets  their  appe- 
tite for  human  flesh,  exactly  as  the  drinking  of  salt  water  does 
with  the  bwaga'u.  They  have  also  some  indirect  power  over 
the  elements  in  the  sea.  Although  the  natives  do  not  quite 
agree  on  the  point,  there  is  no  doubt  that  a  definite  connection 


SHIPWRECK  245 

exists  between  the  mulukwausi  and  all  the  other  dangers  which 
may  be  met  in  the  sea,  such  as  sharks,  the  '  gaping  depth  ' 
(ikapwagega  wiwitu),  many  of  the  small  sea  animals,  crabs, 
some  of  the  shells  and  the  other  things  to  be  mentioned 
presently,  all  of  which  are  considered  to  be  the  cause  of  death 
of  drowning  men.  Thus  the  belief  is  quite  definite  that,  in 
being  cast  into  the  water  by  the  shipwreck,  men  do  not  meet 
any  real  danger  except  by  being  eaten  by  the  mulukwausi, 
the  sharks,  and  the  other  animals.  If  by  the  proper  magic 
these  influences  can  be  obviated,  the  drowning  men  will  escape 
unscathed.  The  belief  in  the  omnipotence  of  man,  or  rather, 
woman  in  this  case,  and  of  the  equal  power  in  antidoting  by 
magic,  governs  all  the  ideas  of  these  natives  about  shipwreck. 
The  supreme  remedy  and  insurance  against  any  dangers  lies 
in  the  magic  of  mist,  called  kayga'u,  which,  side  by  side  with 
Kula  magic,  and  the  magic  of  the  canoes,  is  the  third  of  the 
indispensable  magical  equipments  of  a  sailor. 

A  man  who  knows  well  the  kayga'u  is  considered  to  be  able 
to  travel  safely  through  the  most  dangerous  seas.  A  renowned 
chief,  Maniyuwa,  who  was  reputed  as  one  of  the  greatest  masters 
in  kayga'u  as  well  as  in  other  magic,  died  in  Dobu  on  an  expe- 
dition about  two  generations  ago.  His  son,  Maradiana,  had 
learnt  his  father's  kayga'u.  Although  the  mulukwausi  are 
extremely  dangerous  in  the  presence  of  a  corpse,  and  though 
the  natives  would  never  dream  of  putting  a  dead  body  on  a 
canoe,  and  thus  multiplying  the  probabilities  of  an  attack  by 
the  witches,  still,  Maradiana,  trusting  to  his  kayga'u,  brought 
the  corpse  back  to  Boyowa  without  mishap.  This  act,  a  testi- 
mony to  the  daring  sailor's  great  prowess,  and  to  the  efficiency 
of  the  kayga'u  magic,  is  kept  alive  in  the  memory  and  tradition 
of  the  natives.  One  of  my  informants,  boasting  of  his  kayga'u, 
told  me  how  once,  on  a  return  from  Dobu,  he  performed  his 
rites.  Such  a  mist  arose  as  a  consequence  of  it  that  the  rest  of 
the  canoes  lost  their  way,  and  arrived  in  the  island  of  Kayleula. 
Indeed,  if  we  can  speak  of  a  belief  being  alive,  that  is,  of  having 
a  strong  hold  over  human  imagination,  the  belief  in  the  danger 
from  mulukwausi  at  sea  is  emphatically  such  a  one.  In  times 
of  mental  stress,  in  times  of  the  slightest  danger  at  sea,  or  when 
a  dying  or  dead  person  is  near,  the  natives  at  once  respond 
emotionally  in  terms  of  this  belief.  No  one  could  live  among 
these  natives,  speaking  their  language,  and  following  their 


246  SHIPWRECK 

tribal  life,  without  constantly  coming  up  against  the  belief  in 
mulukwausi,  and  in  the  efficiency  of  the  kayga'u. 

As  in  all  other  magic,  also  here,  there  are  various  systems  of 
kayga'u,  that  is,  there  are  various  formulae,  slightly  differing 
in  their  expressions,  though  usually  similar  in  their  fundamental 
wordings  and  in  certain  '  key  '  expressions.  In  each  §ystem, 
there  are  two  main  types  of  spells,  the  giyotanawa,  or  the  kayga'u 
of  the  Underneath,  and  the  giyorokaywa,  or  the  kayga'u  of  the 
Above.  The  first  one  usually  consists  of  a  short  formula  or 
formulae  spoken  over  some  stones  and  some  lime  in  a  lime  pot 
and  over  some  ginger  root.  This  giyotanawa,  as  its  name 
indicates,  is  magic  directed  against  the  evil  agencies,  awaiting 
the  drowning  men  from  below.  Its  spells  close  up  '  the  gaping 
depth  '  and  they  screen  off  the  shipwrecked  men  from  the  eyes 
of  the  sharks.  They  also  protect  them  from  the  other  evil 
things,  which  cause  the  death  of  a  man  in  drowning.  The 
several  little  sea  worms  found  on  the  beach,  the  crabs,  the 
poisonous  fish,  soka,  and  the  spiky  fish,  baiba'i,  as  well  as  the 
jumping  stones,  whether  vineylida  or  nu'akekepaki,  are  all 
warded  off  and  blinded  by  the  giyotanawa.  Perhaps  the  most 
extraordinary  belief  in  this  connection  is  that  the  tokwalu,  the 
carved  human  figures  on  the  prow  boards,  the  guwaya,  the  semi- 
human  effigy  on  the  mast  top,  as  well  as  the  canoe  ribs  would 
'  eat '  the  drowning  men  if  not  magically  '  treated.' 

The  kayga'u  of  the  '  Above/  the  giyorokaywa,  consists  of 
long  spells,  recited  over  some  ginger  root,  on  several  occasions 
before  sailing,  and  during  bad  weather  or  shipwreck.  They  are 
directed  exclusively  against  the  mulukwausi,  and  form  therefore 
the  more  important  class  of  the  two.  These  spells  must  never 
be  recited  at  night,  as  then  the  mulukwausi  could  see  and  hear 
the  man,  and  make  his  magic  inefficient.  Again,  the  spell  of 
the  Above,  when  recited  at  sea,  must  be  spoken  so  that  the 
magician  is  not  covered  with  spray,  for  if  his  mouth  were  wet 
with  sea  water,  the  smell  would  attract  rather  than  disperse, 
the  flying  witches.  The  man  who  knows  the  kayga'u  must  also 
be  very  careful  at  meal  times.  Children  may  not  speak,  play 
about,  or  make  any  noise  while  he  eats,  nor  should  anyone  go 
round  him  behind  his  back  while  he  is  thus  engaged  ;  nor 
may  they  point  out  anything  with  the  finger.  Should  the 
man  be  thus  disturbed  during  his  food,  he  would  have  to  stop 
eating  at  once,  and  not  resume  it  till  the  next  meal  time. 


SHIPWRECK  247 

Now  the  leading  idea  of  kayga'u  is  that  it  produces  some 
sort  of  mist.  The  mulukwausi  who  follow  the  canoe,  the  sharks 
and  live  stones  which  lie  in  wait  for  it,  the  depth  with  all  its 
horror,  and  the  debris  of  the  canoe  ready  to  harm  the  owner, 
all  these  are  blinded  by  the  mist  that  arises  in  obedience  to  these 
spells.  Thus  the  paralysing  effect  of  these  two  main  forms  of 
magic  and  the  specialised  sphere  of  influence  of  each  of  them, 
are  definite  and  clear  dogmas  of  native  belief. 

But  here  again  we  must  not  try  to  press  the  interpretation 
of  these  dogmas  too  far.  Some  sort  of  mist  covers  the  eyes  of 
all  the  evil  agencies  or  blinds  them  ;  it  makes  the  natives 
invisible  from  them.  But  to  ask  whether  the  kayga'u  produces 
a  real  mist,  visible  also  to  man,  or  only  a  supernatural  one, 
visible  only  to  the  mulukwausi ;  or  whether  it  simply  blinds 
their  eyes  so  that  they  see  nothing,  would  be  asking  too  much. 
The  same  native  who  will  boast  of  having  produced  a  real  mist, 
so  great  that  it  led  astray  his  companions,  will  next  day  perform 
the  kayga'u  in  the  village  during  a  burial,  and  affirm  that  the 
mulukwausi  are  in  a  mist,  though  obviously  a  perfectly  clear 
atmosphere  surrounds  the  whole  proceedings.  The  natives 
will  tell  how,  sailing  on  a  windy  but  clear  day,  after  a  kayga'u 
has  been  recited  into  the  eye  of  the  wind,  they  hear  the  shrieks 
of  the  mulukwausi,  who,  losing  their  companions  and  the  scent 
of  the  trail,  hail  one  another  in  the  dark.  Again,  some  expres- 
sions seem  to  represent  the  view  that  it  is  mainly  an  action  on 
the  eyes  of  the  witches.  '  Idudubila  matala  mulukwausi,' — 
'  It  darkens  the  eyes  of  the  mulukwausi/  or  '  Iguyugwayu  ' — 
'  It  blinds,'  the  natives  will  say.  And  when  asked  : 

"  What  do  the  mulukwausi  see,  then  ?  "  they  will 
answer  :  "  They  will  see  mist  only.  They  do  not  see 
the  places,  they  do  not  see  the  men,  only  mist/' 

Thus  here,  as  in  all  cases  of  belief,  there  is  a  certain  latitude, 
within  which  the  opinions  and  views  may  vary,  and  only  the 
broad  outline,  which  surrounds  them,  is  definitely  fixed  by 
tradition,  embodied  in  ritual,  and  expressed  by  the  phraseology 
of  magical  formulae  or  by  the  statements  of  a  myth. 

I  have  thus  defined  the  manner  in  which  the  natives  face 
the  dangers  of  the  sea  ;  we  have  found,  that  the  fundamental 
conceptions  underlying  this  attitude  are,  that  in  shipwreck, 
men  are  entirely  in  the  hands  of  the  witches,  and  that  from 


248  SHIPWRECK 

this,  only  their  own  magical  defence  can  save  them.  This 
defence  consists  in  the  rites  and  formulae  of  the  kayga'u,  of 
which  we  have  also  learnt  the  leading  principles.  Now,  a 
consecutive  description  must  be  given  of  how  this  magic  is 
performed  when  a  toliwaga  sets  out  on  an  expedition.  And 
following  up  this  expedition,  it  must  be  told  how  the  natives 
imagine  a  shipwreck,  and  what  they  believe  the  behaviour  of 
the  shipwrecked  party  would  be. 

Ill 

I  shall  give  this  narrative  in  a  consecutive  manner,  as  it  was 
told  to  me  by  some  of  the  most  experienced  and  renowned 
Trobriand  sailors  in  Sinaketa,  Oburaku,  and  Omarakana.  We 
can  imagine  that  exactly  such  a  narrative  would  be  told  by  a 
veteran  toliwaga  to  his  usagelu  on  the  beach  of  Yakum,  as  our 
Kula  party  sit  round  the  camp  fires  at  night.  One  of  the  old 
men,  well-known  for  the  excellence  of  his  kayga'u,  and  boastful 
of  it,  would  tell  his  story,  entering  minutely  into  all  the  details, 
however  often  the  others  might  have  heard  about  them  before, 
or  even  assisted  at  the  performance  of  his  magic.  He  would 
then  proceed  to  describe,  with  extreme  realism,  and  dwelling 
graphically  on  every  point,  the  story  of  a  shipwreck,  very 
much  as  if  he  had  gone  through  one  himself.  As  a  matter  of 
fact,  no  one  alive  at  present  has  had  any  personal  experience 
of  such  a  catastrophe,  though  many  have  lived  through  fre- 
quent narrow  escapes  in  stormy  weather.  Based  on  this,  and 
on  what  they  have  heard  themselves  of  the  tradition  of  ship- 
wrecks, natives  will  tell  the  story  with  characteristic  vividness. 
Thus,  the  account  given  below  is  not  only  a  summary  of  native 
belief,  it  is  an  ethnographic  document  in  itself,  representing 
the  manner  in  which  such  type  of  narrative  would  be  told 
over  camp  fires,  the  same  subject  being  over  and  over  again 
repeated  by  the  same  man,  and  listened  to  by  the  same 
audience,  exactly  as  we,  when  children,  or  the  peasants  of 
Eastern  Europe,  will  hearken  to  familiar  fairy  tales  and 
Marchen  The  only  deviation  here  from  what  would  actually 
take  place  in  such  a  story-telling,  is  the  insertion  of  magical 
formulae  into  the  narrative.  The  speaker  might  indeed  repeat 
his  magic,  were  he  speaking  in  broad  daylight,  in  his  village,  to  a 
group  of  close  kinsmen  and  friends.  But  being  on  a  small 
island  in  the  middle  of  the  ocean,  and  at  night,  the  recital  of 


SHIPWRECK  249 

spells  would  be  a  taboo  of  the  kayga'u  ;  nor  would  a  man  ever 
recite  his  magic  before  a  numerous  audience,  except  on  certain 
occasions  at  mortuary  vigils,  where  people  are  expected  to  chant 
their  magic  aloud  before  hundreds  of  listeners. 

Returning  then  again  to  our  group  of  sailors,  who  sit  under 
the  stunted  pandanus  trees  of  Yakum,  let  us  listen  to  one  of  the 
companions  of  the  daring  Maradiana,  now  dead,  to  one  of  the 
descendants  of  the  great  Maniyuwa.  He  will  tell  us  how,  early 
in  the  morning,  on  the  day  of  departure  from  Sinaketa,  or 
sometimes  on  the  next  morning,  when  they  leave  Muwa,  he 
performs  the  first  rite  of  kayga'u.  Wrapping  up  a  piece  of 
leyya  (wild  ginger  root)  in  a  bit  of  dried  banana  leaf,  he  chants 
over  it  the  long  spell  of  the  giyorokaywa,  the  kayga'u  of  the 
Above.  He  chants  this  spell  into  the  leaf,  holding  it  cup- 
shaped,  with  the  morsel  of  ginger  root  at  the  bottom,  so  that 
the  spell  might  enter  into  the  substance  to  be  medicated. 
After  that,  the  leaf  is  immediately  wrapped  round,  so  as  to 
imprison  the  magical  virtue,  and  the  magician  ties  the  parcel 
round  his  left  arm,  with  a  piece  of  bast  or  string.  Sometimes 
he  will  medicate  two  bits  of  ginger  and  make  two  parcels,  of 
which  the  other  will  be  placed  in  a  string  necklet,  and 
carried  on  his  breast.  Our  narrator,  who  is  the  master  of  one  of 
the  canoes,  will  probably  not  be  the  only  one  within  the  circle 
round  the  camp  fire,  who  carries  these  bundles  of  medicated 
ginger  ;  for  though  a  toliwaga  must  always  perform  this  rite  as 
well  as  know  all  the  other  magic  of  shipwreck,  as  a  rule  several 
of  the  older  members  of  his  crew  also  know  it,  and  have  also 
prepared  their  magical  bundles. 

This  is  one  of  the  spells  of  the  giyorokaywa,  such  as  the  old 
man  said  over  the  ginger  root  : 

GIYOROKAYWA  No.  i  (LEYYA  KAYGA'U). 

"  I  will  befog  Muyuwa  !  "  (repeated).  "  I  will  befog 
Misima  !  "  (repeated).  "  The  mist  springs  up  ;  the  mist 
makes  them  tremble.  I  befog  the  front,  I  shut  off  the 
rear  ;  I  befog  the  rear,  I  shut  off  the  front.  I  fill  with  mist, 
mist  springs  up  ;  I  fill  with  mist,  the  mist  which  makes 
them  tremble." 

This  is  the  opening  part  of  the  formula,  very  clear, 
and  easy  to  be  translated.  The  mist  is  magically  invoked, 
the  word  for  mist  being  repeated  with  several  verbal  com- 
binations, in  a  rhythmic  and  alliterative  manner.  The 


250  SHIPWRECK 

expression  tremble,  maysisi,  refers  to  a  peculiar  belief,  that 
when  a  sorcerer  or  sorceress  approaches  the  victim,  and 
this  man  paralyses  them  with  a  counter  spell,  they  lose 
their  bearings,  and  stand  there  trembling. 

The  main  part  of  this  spell  opens  up  with  the  word 
'  aga'u,'  '  I  befog/  which,  like  all  such  leading  words  of  a 
spell  is  first  of  all  intoned  in  a  long,  drawn-out  % chant, 
and  then  quickly  repeated  with  a  series  of  words.  Then 
the  word  '  aga'u  '  is  replaced  by  '  aga'u  sulu,'  '  I  befog, 
lead  astray/  which  in  its  turn  makes  way  for,  '  aga'u 
boda,'  '  I  befog,  shut  off.'  The  list  of  words  repeated  in 
succession  with  each  of  these  three  expressions  is  a  long  one. 
It  is  headed  by  the  words  '  the  eyes  of  the  witches/  Then, 
'  the  eyes  of  the  sea-crab/  Then,  always  with  the  word 
1  eyes/  the  animals,  worms  and  insects  which  threaten 
drowning  men  in  the  sea,  are  enumerated.  After  they  are 
exhausted,  the  various  parts  of  the  body  are  repeated  ; 
then  finally,  a  long  list  of  villages  is  recited,  preceded  by 
the  word  aga'u,  forming  phrases  such  as  :  "I  befog  the 
eyes  of  the  women  of  Wawela,  etc." 

Let  us  reconstruct  a  piece  of  this  middle  part  in  a  con- 
secutive manner.  "  I  befog  ....!!  befog,  I 
befog,  the  eyes  of  the  witches  !  I  befog  the  eyes  of  the 
little  crabs  !  I  befog  the  eyes  of  the  hermit  crab  !  I 
befog  the  eyes  of  the  insects  on  the  beach  !  .  .  .  etc/' 

"  I  befog  the  hand,  I  befog  the  foot,  I  befog  the  head.  I 
befog  the  shoulders  .  .  .  .  etc/' 

"  I  befog  the  eyes  of  the  women  of  Wawela  ;  I  befog  the 
eyes  of  the  women  of  Kaulasi ;  I  befog  the  eyes  of  the 
women  of  Kumilabwaga,  I  befog  the  eyes  of  the  women  of 
Vakuta.  .  .  .  etc.,  etc." 

"  I  befog,  lead  astray,  the  eyes  of  the  witches  ;  I  befog, 
lead  astray  the  eyes  of  the  little  crab  !  .  .  .  etc." 

"  I  befog,  shut  off  the  eyes  of  the  witches,  I  befog,  shut 
off  the  eyes  of  the  little  crab  .  .  .  etc.,  etc." 

It  can  easily  be  seen  how  long  drawn  such  a  spell  is, 
especially  as  in  this  middle  part,  the  magician  will  often 
come  back  to  where  he  has  started,  and  repeat  the  leading 
word  over  and  over  again  with  the  others.  Indeed,  this 
can  be  taken  as  a  typical  tapwana,  or  middle  part,  of  a 
long  spell,  where  the  leading  words  are,  so  to  speak,  well 
rubbed  into  the  various  other  expressions.  One  feature  of 
this  middle  part  is  remarkable,  namely,  that  the  beings 
from  below,  the  crabs,  the  sea  insects  and  worms  are 
invoked,  although  the  spell  is  one  of  the  giyorokaywa  type, 
the  magic  of  the  Above.  This  is  an  inconsistency 


SHIPWRFXK  251 

frequently  met  with  ;  a  contradiction  between  the  ideas 
embodied  in  the  spell,  and  the  theory  of  the  magic,  as 
explicitly  formulated  by  the  informants.  The  parts  of 
the  body  enumerated  in  the  tapwana  refer  to  the  magician's 
own  person,  and  to  his  companions  in  the  canoe.  By 
this  part  of  the  spell,  he  surrounds  himself  and  all  his 
companions  with  mist,  which  makes  them  invisible  to  all 
the  evil  influences. 

After  the  long  tapwana  has  been  recited,  there  follows 
the  last  part,  which,  however,  is  not  chanted  in  this  case, 
but  spoken  in  a  low,  persuasive,  tender  voice. 

"I  hit  thy  flanks  ;  I  fold  over  thy  mat,  thy  bleached 
mat  of  pandanus  ;  I  shall  make  it  into  thy  mantle.  I  take 
thy  sleeping  doba  (grass  skirt),  I  cover  thy  loins  ;  remain 
there,  snore  within  thy  house !  I  alone  myself"  (here  the 
reciter's  name  is  uttered)  "  I  shall  remain  in  the  sea,  I 
shall  swim  !  " 

This  last  part  throws  some  interesting  sidelights  on  native 
belief  in  mulukwausi.  We  see  here  the  expression  of  the  idea 
that  the  body  of  the  witch  remains  in  the  house,  whilst  she 
herself  goes  out  on  her  nefarious  errand.  Molilakwa,  the 
magician  of  Oburaku  who  gave  me  this  spell,  said  in  com- 
mentary to  this  last  part  : 

"  The  yoyova  casts  off  her  body  (inini  wowola — which 
really  means  '  peals  off  her  skin  ')  ;  she  lies  down  and 
sleeps,  we  hear  her  snoring.  Her  covering  (kapwalela 
that  is,  her  outward  body,  her  skin)  remains  in  the  house, 
and  she  herself  flies  (titolela  biyova).  Her  skirt  remains  in 
the  house,  she  flies  naked.  When  she  meets  men,  she  eats 
us.  In  the  morning,  she  puts  on  her  body,  and  lies  down 
in  her  hut.  When  we  cover  her  loins  with  the  doba,  she 
cannot  fly  any  more." 

This  last  sentence  refers  to  the  magical  act  of  covering,  as 
expressed  in  the  last  part  of  the  spell. 

Here  we  find  another  variant  of  belief  as  to  the  nature  of  the 
mulukwausi,  to  be  added  to  those  mentioned  before.  Previously 
we  met  the  belief  of  the  disassociation  of  the  woman  into  the 
part  that  remains,  and  the  part  that  flies.  But  here  the  real 
personality  is  located  in  the  flying  part,  whereas  what  remains 
is  the  '  covering/  To  imagine  the  mulukwausi,  the  flying  part, 
as  a  '  sending,'  in  the  light  of  this  belief,  would  not  be  correct. 
In  general,  such  categories  as  '  agent,'  and  '  sending,'  or  as 


252  SHIPWRECK 

'  real  self '  and  '  emanation  '  etc.,  etc.,  can  be  applied  to  native 
belief  as  rough  approximations  only,  and  the  exact  definition 
should  be  given  in  terms  of  native  statement. 

The  final  sentence  of  this  spell,  containing  the  wish  to 
remain  alone  in  the  sea,  to  be  allowed  to  swim  and  drift,  is  a 
testimony  to  the  belief  that  without  mulukwausi,  there  is  no 
danger  to  a  man  adrift  on  a  piece  of  wreckage  amdng  the 
foaming  waves  of  a  stormy  sea. 

After  reciting  this  lengthy  spell,  the  toliwaga,  as  he  tells  us 
in  his  narrative,  has  had  to  perform  another  rite,  this  time, 
over  his  lime-pot.  Taking  out  the  stopper  of  rolled  palm  leaf 
and  plaited  fibre  from  the  baked  and  decorated  gourd  in  which 
he  keeps  his  lime,  he  utters  another  spell  of  the  giyorokaywa 
cycle  : 

GIYOROKAYWA  No.  2  (PWAKA  KAYGA'U). 

"  There  on  Muruwa,  I  arise,  I  stand  up  !  Iwa,  Sewatupa, 
at  the  head — I  rumble,  I  disperse.  Kasabwaybwayreta, 
Namedili,  Toburitolu,  Tobwebweso,  Tauva'u,  Bo'abwa'u, 
Rasarasa.  They  are  lost,  they  disappear." 

This  beginning,  full  of  archaic  expressions,  implicit 
meanings  and  allusions  and  personal  names,  is  very  obscure. 
The  first  words  refer  probably  to  the  head-quarters  of 
sorcery  ;  Muruwa  (or  Murua — Woodlark  Island),  Iwa, 
Sewatupa.  The  long  list  of  personal  names  following 
afterwards  contains  some  mythical  ones,  like  Kasabway- 
bwayreta, and  some  others,  which  I  cannot  explain, 
though  the  words  Tobwebweso,  Tauva'u,  and  Bo'abwa'u 
suggest  that  this  is  a  list  in  which  some  sorcerers'  names 
figure.  As  a  rule,  in  such  spells,  a  list  of  names  signifies 
that  all  those  who  have  used  and  handed  down  this 
formula,  are  enumerated.  In  some  cases  the  people 
mentioned  are  frankly  mythical  heroes.  Sometimes  a  few 
mythical  names  are  chanted,  and  then  comes  a  string  of 
actual  people,  forming  a  sort  of  pedigree  of  the  spell.  If 
these  in  this  spell  are  ancestor  names  they  all  refer  to 
mythical  personalities,  and  not  to  real  ancestors.*  The 
last  words  contained  an  expression  typical  of  the  kayga'u. 
Then  comes  the  middle  part. 

*  Not  all  the  spells  which  I  have  obtained  have  been  equally  well  trans- 
lated and  commented  upon.  This  one,  although  very  valuable,  for  it  is  one  of 
the  spells  of  the  old  chiei  Maniyuwa,  and  one  which  had  been  recited  when  his 
corpse  was  brought  over  from  Dobu  by  his  son  Maradiana,  was  obtained  early 
in  my  ethnographic  career,  and  Gomaya,  Maradiana's  son,  from  whom  I  got  it, 
is  a  bad  commentator.  Nor  could  I  find  any  other  competent  informant  later 
on,  who  could  completely  elucidate  it  for  me. 


SHIPWRECK  253 

"  I  arise,  I  escape  from  bara'u  ;  I  arise,  I  escape  from 
yoyova.  I  arise,  I  escape  from  mulukwausi.  I  arise,  I 
escape  from  bowo'u,  etc./'  repeating  the  leading  words 
"  I  arise,  I  escape  from —  "  with  the  words  used  to  describe 
the  flying  witches  in  the  various  surrounding  districts. 
Thus  the  word  bara'u  comes  from  Muyuwa  (Woodlark 
Island),  where  it  describes  the  sorceress,  and  not,  as  in 
other  Massim  districts,  a  male  sorcerer.  The  words 
yoyova,  mulukwausi  need  no  explanation.  Bowo'u  is  an 
Amphlettan  word.  Words  from  Dobu,  Tubetube,  etc., 
follow.  Then  the  whole  period  is  repeated,  adding  '  eyes 
of  '  in  the  middle  of  each  phrase,  so  that  it  runs  : 

"  I  arise,  I  escape  from  the  eyes  of  the  bara'u.  I  arise, 
I  escape  from  the  eyes  of  the  yoyova,  etc."  The  leading 
words,  '  I  arise,  I  escape  from  *  are  then  replaced  by  * 
'  They  wander  astray/  which,  again,  make  way  to  '  the 
sea  is  cleared  off '  This  whole  middle  part  of  the  spell 
is  clear,  and  needs  no  commentary.  Then  comes  the 
concluding  period  (dogina)  : 

"  I  am  a  manuderi  (small  bird),  I  am  a  kidikidi  (small 
sea  bird),  I  am  a  floating  log,  I  am  a  piece  of  sea- weed  ; 
I  shall  produce  mist  till  it  encloses  all,  I  shall  befog, 
I  shall  shut  off  with  fog.  Mist,  enveloped  in  mist,  dissolv- 
ing in  mist  am  I.  Clear  is  the  sea,  (the  mulukwausi  are) 
straying  in  mist."  This  part  also  needs  no  special  com- 
mentary. 

This  is  again  a  long  spell  of  the  giyorokaywa  type,  that  is, 
directed  against  the  mulukwausi,  and  in  this  the  spell  is  consis- 
tent, for  the  mulukwausi  alone  are  invoked  in  the  middle 
period. 

After  the  spell  has  been  chanted  into  the  lime  pot,  this  is 
well  stoppered,  and  not  opened  till  the  end  of  the  journey.  It 
must  be  noted  that  these  two  giyorokaywa  spells  have  been 
spoken  by  our  toliwaga  in  the  village  or  on  Muwa  beach,  and 
in  day  time.  For  as  said  above,  it  is  a  taboo  to  utter  them  in 
the  night  or  at  sea.  From  the  moment  he  has  spoken  these 
two  spells,  both  medicated  substances,  the  ginger  root  and  the 
lime  in  the  lime  pot,  remain  near  him.  He  has  also  in  the 
canoe  some  stones  of  those  brought  from  the  Koya,  and  called 
binabina,  in  distinction  to  the  dead  coral,  which  is  called 
dakuna.  Over  these  stones,  at  the  moment  of  the  occurrence 
of  danger,  a  spell  of  the  Underneath,  a  giyotanawa  will  be 
recited.  The  following  is  a  formula  of  this  type,  short  as  they 
always  are 


254  SHIPWRECK 

GlYOTANAWA  No.   I   (DAKUNA  KAYGA'u). 

"  Man,  bachelor,  woman,  young  girl ;  woman,  young 
girl,  man,  bachelor  !  Traces,  traces  obliterated  by  cob- 
webs ;  traces,  obliterated  by  turning  up  (the  material  in 
which  they  were  left)  ;  I  press,  I  close  down  !  Sharks  of 
Dukutabuya,  I  press,  I  close  down  ;  Sharks  of  Kaduwaga, 
I  press,  I  close  down/'  etc.,  the  sharks  of  Muwa,  Galeya, 
Bonari,  and  Kaulokoki  being  invoked  in  turn.  All  these 
words  are  names  of  marked  parts  of  the  sea,  in  and  around 
the  Trobriand  Lagoon.  The  formula  ends  up  with  the 
following  peroration  :  "I  press  down  thy  neck,  I  open  up 
thy  passage  of  Kiyawa,  I  kick  thee  down,  O  shark.  Duck 
down  under  water,  shark.  Die,  shark,  die  away." 

The  commentary  to  the  opening  sentences  given  by  my 
informant,  Molilakwa  of  Oburaku,  was  : 

"  This  magic  is  taught  to  people  when  they  are  quite 
young.  Hence  the  mention  of  young  people." 

The  obliterating  of  traces  will  be  made  clearer  by  the  account 
which  follows,  in  which  we  shall  see  that  to  obliterate  traces, 
to  put  off  the  scent  the  shark  and  mulukwausi  are  the  main 
concerns  of  the  shipwrecked  party.  The  middle  part  refers  to 
sharks  only,  and  so  does  the  peroration.  The  passage  of 
Kiyawa  near  Tuma  is  mentioned  in  several  types  of  magical 
exorcisms,  when  the  evil  influence  is  being  banished.  This 
passage  lies  between  the  main  island  and  the  island  of  Tuma, 
and  leads  into  the  unknown  regions  of  the  North-Western  seas. 

It  will  be  best  to  quote  here  another  formula  of  the 
giyotanawa  type,  and  a  very  dramatic  one.  For  this  is  the 
formula  spoken  at  the  critical  moment  of  shipwreck.  At  the 
mofnent  when  the  sailors  decide  to  abandon  the  craft  and  to 
plunge  into  the  sea,  the  toliwaga  stands  up  in  the  canoe,  and 
slowly  turning  round  so  as  to  throw  his  words  towards  all  four 
winds,  intones  in  a  loud  voice  this  spell  : 

GlYOTANAWA    No.    2. 

"  Foam,  foam,  breaking  wave,  wave  !  I  shall  enter  into 
the  breaking  wave,  I  shall  come  out  from  behind  it.  I 
shall  enter  from  behind  into  the  wave,  and  I  shall  come 
out  in  its  breaking  foam  I  " 

"  Mist,  gathering  mist,  encircling  mist,  surround, 
surround  me  !  " 


SHIPWRECK  255 

"  Mist,  gathering  mist,  encircling  mist,  surround,  surround 

me,  my  mast ! 
Mist,  gathering  mist,  etc.     .    .    .     surround  me,  the  nose 

of  my  canoe. 

Mist,  etc.     .     .     .     surround  me,  my  sail, 
Mist,  etc.     .     .     .     surround  me,  my  steering  oar, 
Mist,  etc.     .     .     .     surround  me,  my  rigging, 
Mist,  etc.     .     .     .     surround  me,  my  platform," 

And  so  on,  enumerating  one  after  the  other  all  the  parts 
of  the  canoe  and  its  accessories.  Then  comes  the  final  part 
of  the  spell : 

"  I  shut  off  the  skies  with  mist  ;  I  make  the  sea  tremble 
with  mist  ;  I  close  up  your  mouth,  sharks,  bonubonu 
(small  worms),  ginukwadewo  (other  worms).  Go  under- 
neath and  we  shall  swim  on  top." 

Little  is  needed  as  a  commentary  to  this  magic.  Its  begin- 
ning is  very  clear,  and  singularly  well  depicts  the  situation  in 
which  it  is  uttered.  The  end  refers  directly  to  the  primary 
aim  of  the  magic,  to  the  warding  off  of  the  Underneath,  of  the 
dangerous  animals  in  the  sea.  The  only  ambiguity  refers  to 
the  middle  part,  where  the  magical  leading  words  of  '  envelop- 
ing by  mist  '  are  associated  with  a  list  of  names  of  the  parts  of 
the  canoe.  I  am  not  certain  whether  this  is  to  be  interpreted, 
in  the  sense  that  the  toliwaga  wants  to  surround  his  whole  canoe 
with  mist  so  that  it  may  not  be  seen  by  the  sharks,  etc.,  or 
whether,  on  the  contrary,  just  on  the  verge  of  abandoning  his 
canoe,  and  anxious  to  cut  himself  off  from  its  various  parts 
which  may  turn  on  him  and  '  eat  him/  he  therefore  wants  to 
surround  each  of  them  with  mist  so  that  it  may  be  blinded. 
The  latter  interpretation  fits  the  above-quoted  belief  that 
certain  parts  of  the  canoe,  especially  the  carved  human  figures 
on  the  prowboard  and  the  mast,  the  ribs  of  the  canoe,  and 
certain  other  parts  of  its  construction,  '  eat  '  the  shipwrecked 
men.  But  again,  in  this  spell,  there  are  enumerated  not  certain 
parts,  but  every  part,  and  that  undoubtedly  is  not  consistent 
with  this  belief,  so  the  question  must  remain  open 

IV 

I  have  anticipated  some  of  the  events  of  the  consecutive 
narrative  of  shipwreck,  in  order  to  give  the  two  last  mentioned 
magical  formulae  first,  and  not  to  have  to  interrupt  the  tale  of 


256  SHIPWRECK 

our  tohwaga,  to  which  we  now  return.  We  left  it  at  the  point 
where,  having  said  his  first  two  kayga'u  formulae  over  the  ginger 
and  into  the  lime  pot,  he  embarks,  keeping  these  two  things 
handy,  and  putting  some  binabina  stones  within  his  reach. 
From  here,  his  narrative  becomes  more  dramatic.  He  de- 
scribes the  approaching  storm  : 

NARRATIVE  OF  SHIPWRECK  AND  SALVAGE. 

The  canoe  sails  fast  ;  the  wind  rises  ;  big  waves  come  ; 
the  wind  booms,  du-du-du-du.  .  .  The  sails  flutter  ; 
the  lamina  (outrigger)  rises  high  !  All  the  usagelu  crouch 
on  the  lamina.  I  speak  magic  to  calm  the  wind.  The  big 
spell  of  the  Sim-sim.  They  know  all  about  yavata  (North- 
Westerley  Monsoon  wind).  They  live  in  the  eye  of  the 
yavata.  The  wind  abates  not,  not  a  little  bit.  It  booms, 
it  gains  strength,  it  booms  loud  du-du-du-du-du.  All  the 
usagelu  are  afraid.  The  mulukwausi  scream,  u-u,  u-u, 
u-u,  u  ;  their  voices  are  heard  in  the  wind.  With  the  wind 
they  scream  and  come  flying.  The  veva  (sheet  rope)  is 
torn  from  the  hands  of  the  tokabinaveva.  The  sail  flutters 
freely  in  the  wind  ;  it  is  torn  away.  It  flies  far  into  the 
sea  ;  it  falls  on  the  waters.  The  waves  break  over  the 
canoe.  I  stand  up.  I  take  the  binabina  stones  ;  I  recite 
the  kayga'u  over  them,  the  giyotanawa,  the  spell  of  the 
Underneath.  The  short  spell,  the  very  strong  spell.  I 
throw  the  stones  into  the  deep.  They  weigh  down  the 
sharks,  the  vineylida  ;  they  close  the  Gaping  Depth.  The 
fish  cannot  see  us.  I  stand  up,  I  take  my  lime  pot ;  I 
break  it.  The  lime  I  throw  into  the  wind.  It  wraps  us  up 
in  mist.  Such  a  mist  that  no  one  can  see  us.  The 
mulukwausi  lose  sight  of  us.  We  hear  them  shout  near  by. 
They  shout  u-u,  u-ti,  u-u,  u.  The  sharks,  the  bonubonu, 
the  soka  do  not  see  us  ;  the  water  is  turbid.  The  canoe 
is  swamped,  the  water  is  in  it.  It  drifts  heavily,  the 
waves  break  over  us.  We  break  the  vatotuwa,  (the  sticks 
joining  the  float  to  the  platform).  The  lamina  (outrigger 
float)  is  severed  ;  we  jump  from  the  waga  ;  we  catch  hold 
of  the  lamina.  On  the  lamina  we  drift.  I  utter  the  great 
Kaytaria  spell  ;  the  big  fish  iraviyaka  comes.  It  lifts  us. 
It  takes  the  lamina  on  its  back,  and  carries  us.  We  drift, 
we  drift,  we  drift/' 

"  We  approach  a  shore  ;  the  iraviyaka  brings  us  there, 
the  iraviyaka  puts  us  on  the  shallows.  I  take  a  stout  pole, 
I  lift  it  off ;  I  speak  a  spell.  The  iraviyaka  turns  back 
to  the  deep  sea." 


SHIPWRECK  257 

"  We  are  all  on  the  dayaga  (fringing  reef).  We  stand  in 
water.  The  water  is  cold,  we  all  shiver  with  cold.  We 
do  not  go  ashore.  We  are  afraid  of  the  mulukwausi.  They 
follow  us  ashore.  They  wait  for  us  ashore.  I  take  a 
dakuna  (piece  of  coral  stone),  I  say  a  spell  over  it.  I 
throw  the  stone  on  the  beach  ;  it  makes  a  big  thud  ; 
good  ;  the  mulukwausi  are  not  there.  We  go  ashore. 
Another  time,  I  throw  a  stone,  we  hear  nothing  :  muluk- 
wausi are  on  the  beach  ;  they  catch  it  ;  we  hear  nothing. 
We  remain  on  the  dayaga.  I  take  some  leyya  (ginger).  I 
spit  it  at  the  beach.  I  throw  another  stone.  The 
mulukwausi  do  not. see  it.  It  falls  down  ;  we  hear  it.  We 
go  ashore  ;  we  sit  on  the  sand  in  a  row.  We  sit  in  one  row, 
one  man  near  another,  as  on  the  lamina  (in  the  same  order 
as  they  drifted  on  the  lamina).  I  make  a  charm  over  the 
comb  ;  all  the  usagelu  comb  their  hair  ;  they  tease  their 
hair  a  long  time.  They  are  very  cold  ;  we  do  not  make 
the  fire.  First,  I  put  order  on  the  beach  ;  I  take  the  piece 
of  leyya,  I  spit  it  over  the  beach.  One  time,  when  the 
leyya  is  finished,  I  take  some  kasita  leaves  (the  beach  is 
always  full  of  these).  I  put  them  on  the  shore,  I  put  a 
stone  on  them,  uttering  a  spell — afterwards,  we  make 
fire.  All  sit  round  and  warm  themselves  at  the  fire." 

"  At  day  time,  we  don't  go  to  the  village  ;  the  muluk- 
wausi would  follow  us.  After  dark,  we  go.  Like  on  the 
lamina,  we  march  in  the  same  order,  one  after  the  other. 
I  go  last  ;  I  chant  a  spell  over  a  libu  plant.  I  efface  our 
traces.  I  put  the  libu  on  our  track  ;  I  put  the  weeds 
together.  I  make  the  path  confused.  I  say  a  charm  to 
the  spider,  that  he  might  make  a  cobweb.  I  say  a  charm 
to  the  bush-hen,  that  she  might  turn  up  the  soil." 

"  We  go  to  the  village.  We  enter  the  village,  we  pass 
the  main  place.  No  one  sees  us  ;  we  are  in  mist,  we  are 
invisible.  We  enter  the  house  of  my  veyola  (maternal 
kinsman),  he  medicates  some  leyya  ;  he  spits  (magically) 
on  all  of  us.  The  mulukwausi  smell  us  ;  they  smell  the 
salt  water  on  our  skins.  They  come  to  the  house,  the  house 
trembles.  A  big  wind  shakes  the  house,  we  hear  big  thuds 
against  the  house.  The  owner  of  the  house  medicates  the 
leyya  and  spits  over  us  ;  they  cannot  see  us.  A  big  fire 
is  made  in  the  house  ;  plenty  of  smoke  fills  the  house. 
The  leyya  and  the  smoke  blind  their  eyes.  Five  days  we 
sit  in  smoke,  our  skin  smells  of  smoke  ;  our  hair  smells  of 
smoke  ;  the  mulukwausi  cannot  smell  us.  Then  I  medicate 
some  water  and  coco-nut,  the  usagelu  wash  and  annoint 
themselves.  They  leave  the  house,  they  sit  on  the 


258  SHIPWRECK 

kaukweda  (spot  before  the  house).  The  owner  of  the  house 
chases  them  away.  '  Go,  go  to  your  wife  ;  '  we  all  go, 
we  return  to  our  houses." 

I  have  given  here  a  reconstruction  of  a  native  account,  as  I 
have  often  heard  it  told  with  characteristic  vividness  :  spoken 
in  short,  jerky  sentences,  with  onamatopoetic  representations 
of  sound,  the  narrative  exaggerates  certain  features,  and  omits 
others.  The  excellency  of  the  narrator's  own  magic,  the 
violence  of  the  elements  at  critical  moments,  he  would 
always  reiterate  with  monotonous  insistence.  He  would 
diverge  into  some  correlated  subject,  jump  ahead,  missing 
out  several  stages,  come  back,  and  so  on,  so  that  the  whole  is 
quite  incoherent  and  unintelligible  to  a  white  listener,  though 
the  native  audience  follows  its  trend  perfectly  well.  For  it 
must  be  remembered  that,  when  a  native  tells  such  a  story,  the 
events  are  already  known  to  his  listeners,  who  have  grown  up 
gradually  becoming  familiar  with  the  narrow  range  of  their 
tribal  folklore.  Our  toliwaga,  telling  this  story  over  again  on 
the  sandbank  of  Yakum,  would  dwell  on  such  points  as  allowed 
him  to  boast  of  his  kayga'u,  to  describe  the  violence  of  the 
storm,  to  bear  witness  to  the  traditional  effects  of  the  magic. 

It  is  necessary  for  an  Ethnographer  to  listen  several  times 
to  such  a  narrative,  in  order  to  have  a  fair  chance  of  forming 
some  coherent  idea  of  its  trend.  Afterwards,  by  means  of  direct 
examination,  he  can  succeed  in  placing  the  facts  in  their  proper 
sequence.  By  questioning  the  informants  about  details  of  rite 
and  magic,  it  is  possible  then  to  obtain  interpretations  and 
commentaries.  Thus  the  whole  of  a  narrative  can  be  con- 
structed, the  various  fragments,  with  all  their  spontaneous 
freshness,  can  be  put  in  their  proper  places,  and  this  is  what  I 
have  done  in  giving  this  account  of  shipwreck.* 

A  few  words  of  comment  must  now  be  given  on  the  text  of 
the  above  narrative.  In  it,  a  number  of  magical  rites  were 
mentioned,  besides  those  which  were  described  first  with  their 
spells.  Something  must  be  said  more  in  detail  about  the  spells 
of  the  subsequent  magical  performances.  There  are  some 
eleven  of  them.  First  comes  the  ritual  invocation  of  the  fish 

*  Such  reconstructions  are  legitimate  for  an  Ethnographer,  as  well  as 
for  a  historian.  But  it  is  a  duty  of  the  former  as  well  as  of  the  latter  to  show 
his  sources  as  well  as  to  explain  how  he  has  manipulated  them.  In  one  of  the 
next  chapters,  Chapter  XVIII,  Divisions  XIV-XV1I,  a  sample  of  this  method- 
ological aspect  of  the  work  will  be  given,  although  the  full  elaboration  of  sources 
and  methods  must  be  postponed  to  another  publication. 


SHIPWRECK  259 

which  helps  the  shipwrecked  sailors.  The  spell  corresponding 
to  this,  is  called  kaytaria,  and  it  is  an  important  formula,  which 
every  toliwaga  is  supposed  to  know.  The  question  arises,  has 
this  rite  ever  been  practised  in  reality  ?  Some  of  the  actions 
taken  by  the  shipwrecked  natives,  such  as  the  cutting  ot  the 
the  outrigger  float  when  the  boat  is  abandoned,  are  quite 
rational.  It  would  be  dangerous  to  float  on  the  big,  unwieldy 
canoe  which  might  be  constantly  turned  round  and  round  by 
the  waves,  and  if  smashed  to  pieces,  might  injure  the  sailors 
with  its  wreckage.  In  this  fact,  perhaps  there  is  also  the 
empirical  basis  for  the  belief  that  some  fragments  of  the  canoe 
'  eat  '  the  shipwrecked  men.  The  round,  symmetrical  log  of 
the  lamina,  on  the  other  hand,  will  serve  as  an  excellent 
lifebuoy.  Perhaps  a  toliwaga,  arrived  at  such  a  pass,  would 
really  utter  the  kaytaria  spell.  And  if  the  party  were  saved, 
they  would  probably  all  declare,  and,  no  doubt  believe,  that 
the  fish  had  come  to  their  summons,  and  somehow  or  other 
helped  in  the  rescue. 

It  is  less  easy  to  imagine  what  elements  in  such  an  experi- 
ence might  have  given  rise  to  the  myth  that  the  natives,  landed 
on  the  shore,  magically  lift  the  fish  from  the  shallow  waters 
by  means  of  a  charmed  pole.  This  indeed  seems  a  purely 
imaginary  incident,  and  my  main  informant,  Molilakwa  of 
Oburaku,  from  whom  I  obtained  the  kaytaria  spell,  did  not 
know  the  spell  of  the  pole,  and  would  have  had  to  leave  the 
iraviaka  to  its  own  fate  in  the  shallows.  Nor  could  I  hear  of 
anyone  else  professing  to  know  this  spell.  The  formula  uttered 
over  the  stone  to  be  thrown  on  the  beach  was  equally  unknown 
to  the  circle  of  my  informants.  Of  course,  in  all  such  cases, 
when  a  man  carrying  on  a  system  of  magic  would  come  to  a  gap 
in  his  knowledge,  he  would  perform  the  rite  without  the  spell, 
or  utter  the  most  suitable  spell  of  the  system.  Thus  here,  as  the 
stone  is  thrown  in  order  to  reconnoitre  whether  the  mulukwausi 
are  waiting  for  them,  a  spell  of  the  giyorokaywa,  the  spell  of  the 
mulukwausi,  might  be  uttered  over  the  stone.  Over  the  combs, 
as  well  as  over  the  herbs  on  the  beach,  a  giyorokaywa  spell 
would  be  uttered,  according  to  my  informants,  but  probably,  a 
different  spell  from  the  one  spoken  originally  over  the  ginger 
root.  Molilakwa,  for  instance,  knows  two  spells  of  the  giyoro- 
kaywa, both  of  which  are  suitable  to  be  spoken  over  the  ginger 
and  over  the  beach  respectively.  Then  there  comes  another 


26o  SHIPWRECK 

spell,  to  be  uttered  over  the  libu  plant,  and  in  addressing  the 
spider  and  the  bush-hen.  Molilakwa  told  me  that  the  same  spell 
would  be  said  in  the  three  cases,  but  neither  he,  nor  anyone 
else,  among  my  informants  could  give  me  this  spell.  The  magic 
done  in  the  village,  while  the  shipwrecked  men  remained  in  the 
smoky  hut,  would  be  all  accompanied  by  the  leyya  (ginger) 
spells. 

One  incident  in  the  above  narrative  might  have  struck  the 
reader  as  contradictory  of  the  general  theory  of  the  mulukwausi 
belief,  that,  namely,  where  the  narrator  declares  that  the  party 
on  the  beach  have  to  wait  till  nightfall  before  they  enter  the 
village.  The  general  belief  expressed  in  all  the  mulukwausi 
legends,  as  well  as  in  the  taboos  of  the  kayga'u,  is  that  the 
witches  are  really  dangerous  only  at  night,  when  they  can 
see  and  hear  better.  Such  contradictions,  as  I  have  said,  are 
often  met  in  native  belief,  and  in  this,  by  the  way,  the  savages 
do  not  differ  from  ourselves.  My  informant,  from  whom  I  had 
this  version,  simply  said  that  such  was  the  rule  and  the  custom, 
and  that  they  had  to  wait  till  night.  In  another  account,  on 
the  other  hand,  I  was  told  that  the  party  must  proceed  to  the 
village  immediately  after  having  performed  the  several  rites  on 
the  beach,  whether  night  or  day. 

There  also  arises  the  main  question,  regarding  this  narrative, 
to  which  allusion  has  been  made  already,  namely,  how  far  does 
it  represent  the  normal  behaviour  in  shipwreck,  and  how  far 
is  it  a  sort  of  standardised  myth  ?  There  is  no  doubt  that 
shipwreck  in  these  seas,  surrounded  in  many  parts  by  islands,  is 
not  unlikely  to  end  by  the  party's  being  saved.  This  again  would 
result  in  some  such  explanation  as  that  contained  in  our  narra- 
tive. Naturally,  I  tried  to  record  all  the  actual  cases  of  ship- 
wreck within  the  natives'  memory.  Some  two  generations  ago, 
one  of  the  chiefs  of  Omarakana,  named  Numakala,  perished  at 
sea,  and  with  him'  all  his  crew.  A  canoe  of  another  Eastern 
Trobriand  village,  Tilakaywa,  was  blown  far  North,  and 
stranded  in  Kokopawa,  from  where  it  was  sailed  back  by  its 
crew,  when  the  wind  turned  to  the  North- West.  Although 
this  canoe  was  not  actually  shipwrecked,  its  salvation  is 
credited  to  kayga'u  magic,  and  to  the  kind  fish,  iraviyaka.  A 
very  intelligent  informant  of  mine  explained  this  point  of 
view  in  answer  to  some  of  my  cavillings  :  "If  this  canoe 
had  been  wrecked,  it  would  have  been  saved  also." 


SHIPWRECK  261 

A  party  from  Muyuwa  ( Woodlark  Island)  were  saved  on  the 
shore  of  Boyowa,  In  the  South  of  the  Island,  several  cases  are 
on  record  where  canoes  were  wrecked  and  saved  in  the 
d'Entrecasteaux  Islands  or  in  the  Amphletts.  Once  the  whole 
crew  were  eaten  by  cannibals,  getting  ashore  .in  a  hostile 
district  of  Fergusson  Island,  and  one  man  only  escaped,  and 
ran  along  the  shore,  south-eastwards  towards  Dobu.  Thus 
there  is  a  certain  amount  of  historical  evidence  for  the  saving 
power  of  the  magic,  and  the  mixture  of  fanciful  -and  real 
elements  makes  our  story  a  good  example  of  what  could  be 
called  standardised  or  universalized  myth — that  is,  a  myth 
referring  not  to  one  historical  event  but  to  a  type  of  occurrence, 
happening  universally 


Let  us  now  give  the  text  of  the  remaining  spells  which  belong 
to  the  above  narrative,  but  have  not  been  adduced  there,  so 
as  not  to  spoil  its  flow.  First  of  all  there  is  the  kaytaria  spell, 
that  which  the  toliwaga.  drifting  alongside  his  crew  on  the 
detached  canoe  float,  intones  in  a  loud,  slow  voice,  in  order  to 
attract  the  iraviyaka. 

KAYTARIA  SPELL. 

"  I  lie,  I  shall  lie  down  in  my  house,  a  big  house.  I 
shall  sharpen  my  ear,  I  shall  hear  the  roaring  of  the  sea — 
it  foams  up,  it  makes  a  noise.  At  the  bottom  of 
Kausubiyai,  come,  lift  me,  take  me,  bring  me  to  the  top  of 
Nabonabwana  beach." 

Then  comes  a  sentence  with  mythological  allusions 
which  I  could  not  succeed  in  translating.  After  that 
follows  the  main  part  of  the  spell  : 

"  The  suyusayu  fish  shall  lift  me  up  ;  my  child,  the 
suyusayu  shall  lift  me  up  ;  my  child's  things,  the  suyusayu 
shall  lift  me  up  ;  my  basket,  etc.  ;  my  lime  pot,  etc.  ;  my 
lime  spoon,  etc. ;  my  house,  etc.  ;  "  repeating  the  words 
"  the  suyusayu  fish  shall  lift  me  up  "  with  various  expres- 
sions describing  the  toliwaga1 s  equipment  as  well  as  his 
child,  presumably  a  member  of  the  shipwrecked  crew. 

There  is  no  end  part  to  this  spell,  as  it  was  given  to  me  ; 
only  the  beginning  is  repeated  after  the  main  part.  It  is  not 
impossible  that  Molilakwa  himself,  my  informant,  did  not 


262  SHIPWRECK 

know  the  spell  to  the  end.  Such  magic,  once  learnt  by  a  native, 
never  used,  and  recited  perhaps  once  a  year  during  a  mortuary 
ceremony,  or  occasionally,  in  order  to  show  off,  is  easily  for- 
gotten. There  is  a  marked  difference  between  the  vacillating 
and  uncertain  way  in  which  such  spells  are  produced  by  infor- 
mants, and  the  wonderful  precision  and  the  easy  flow  with 
which,  for  example,  the  spells,  year  after  year  performed  in 
public,  will  trip  off  the  tongue  of  the  garden  magician. 

I  cannot  give  a  correct  commentary  to  the  mythological 
names  Kausubiyai  and  Nabonabwana,  in  the  first  part  of  the 
spell.  What  this  part  means,  whether  the  reclining  individual 
who  hears  the  noises  of  the  sea  is  the  magician,  or  whether  it 
represents  the  sensations  of  the  fish  who  hears  the  calling  for 
help,  I  could  not  make  out.  The  meaning  of  the  middle  part  is 
plain,  however  Suyusayu  is  another  name  for  iraviyaka, 
indeed,  its  magical  n^me  used  only  in  spells,  and  not  when 
speaking  of  it  in  ordinary  conversations. 

The  other  formula  to  be  given  here  is  the  other  giyorokaywa 
spell,  which  would  be  used  in  spitting  the  ginger  on  the  beach 
after  rescue,  and  also  in  medicating  the  herbs,  which  will  be  put 
on  the  beach  and  beaten  with  a  stone  This  spell  is  associated 
with  the  myth  of  the  origin  of  kayga'u,  which  must  be  related 
here,  to  make  the  formula  clear. 

Near  the  beginning  of  time,  there  lived  in  Kwayawata,  one  of 
the  Marshall  Bennetts,  a  family  strange  to  our  ideas  of  family 
life,  but  quite  natural  in  the  world  of  Kiriwinian  mythology.  It 
consisted  of  a  man,  Kalaytaytu,  his  sister,  Isenadoga,  and  the 
youngest  brother,  a  dog,  Tokulubweydoga.  Like  other  mytho- 
logical personages,  their  names  suggest  that  originally  they 
must  have  conveyed  some  sort  of  description.  Doga  means  the 
curved,  almost  circular,  boar's  tusk  used  as  ornament.  The 
name  of  the  canine  member  of  the  family  might  mean  some- 
thing like  Man-with-circular-tusks-in-his-head,  and  his  sister's 
name,  Woman-ornamented- with-doga.  The  eldest  brother  has 
in  his  name  the  word  taytu,  which  signifies  the  staple  food 
(small  yams)  of  natives,  and  a  verb,  kalay,  signifying  '  to  put  on 
ornaments.'  Not  much  profit,  however,  can  be  deduced  from 
this  etymology,  as  far  as  I  can  see,  for  the  interpretation  of 
this  myth.  I  shall  quote  in  a  literal  translation  the  short 
version  of  this  myth,  as  I  obtained  it  first,  when  the  information 
was  volunteered  to  me  by  Molilakwa  in  Oburaku 


SHIPWRECK  263 

MYTH  OF  TOKULUBWAYDOGA. 

"  They  live  in  Kwayawata  ;  one  day  Kalaytayta  goes 
to  fish,  gets  into  a  small  canoe  (kewo'u).  Behind  him 
swims  the  dog.  He  comes  to  Digumenu.  They  fish  with 
the  older  brother.  They  catch  fish  !  The  elder  brother 
paddles  ;  that  one  again  goes  behind  ;  goes,  returns  to 
Kwayawata.  They  died  ;  came  Modokei,  he  learned  the 
kayga'u,  the  inside  of  Tokulubwaydoga.  The  name  of 
their  mother,  the  mother  of  Tokulubwaydoga,  is 
Tobunaygu." 

This  little  fragment  gives  a  good  idea  of  what  the  first 
version  is,  even  of  so  well  fixed  a  piece  of  narrative  as  a  myth. 
It  has  to  be  supplemented  by  inquiries  as  to  the  motives  of  the 
behaviour  of  the  various  personages,  as  to  the  relations  of  one 
event  to  the  other.  Thus,  further  questions  revealed  that  the 
elder  brother  refused  to  take  the  dog  with  him  on  this  fishing 
expedition.  Tokulubwaydoga  then  determined  to  go  all  the 
same,  and  swam  to  Digumenu,  following  the  canoe  of  his 
brother.  This  latter  was  astonished  to  see  him,  but  none  the 
less  they  went  to  work  together.  In  fishing,  the  dog  was  more 
successful  than  his  brother,  and  thus  aroused  his  jealousy. 
The  man  then  refused  to  take  him  back.  Tokulubwaydoga 
then  jumped  into  the  water,  and  again  swam  and  arrived 
safely  in  Kwayawata.  The  point  of  the  story  lies  in  the  fact 
that  the  dog  was  able  to  do  the  swimming,  because  he  knew 
the  kayga'u,  otherwise  the  sharks,  mulukwausi,  or  other  evil 
things  would  have  eaten  him.  He  got  it  from  his  mother,  the 
lady  Tobunaygu,  who  could  teach  him  this  magic  because  she 
was  a  mulukwausi  herself.  Another  important  point  about 
this  myth,  also  quite  omitted  from  the  first  version  volunteered 
to  me,  is  its  sociological  aspect.  First  of  all,  there  is  the  very 
interesting  incident,  unparalleled  in  Kiriwinian  tradition  :  the 
mother  of  the  three  belonged  to  the  Lukwasisiga  clan.  It  was  a 
most  incongruous  thing  for  a  dog,  who  is  the  animal  of  the 
Lukuba  clan,  to  be  born  into  a  Lukwasisiga  family.  However, 
there  he  was,  and  so  he  said  : 

"  Good,  I  shall  be  a  Lukuba,  this  is  my  clan." 

Now  the  incident  of  the  quarrel  receives  its  significance  in  so 
far  as  the  dog,  the  only  one  to  whom  the  mother  gave  the 
kayga'u,  did  not  hand  it  over  to  his  brother  and  sister  who  were 


264  SHIPWRECK 

of  the  Lukwasisiga  clan,  and  so  the  magic  went  down  only  the 
dog's  own  clan;  the  Lukuba.  It  must  be  assumed  (though  this 
was  not  known  to  my  informant)  that  Madokei,  who  learnt  the 
magic  from  the  dog,  was  also  a  Lukuba  man. 

Like  all  mythological  mother-ancestresses,  Tobunaygu  had 
no  husband,  nor  does  this  circumstance  call  forth  any  surprise 
or  comment  on  the  part  of  the  natives,  since  the  physiological 
aspect  of  fatherhood  is  not  known  among  them,  as  I  have 
repeatedly  observed. 

As  can  be  seen,  by  comparing  the  original  fragment,  and  the 
subsequent  amplification  by  inquiries,  the  volunteered  version 
misses  out  the  most  important  points.  The  concatenation  of 
events,  the  origin  of  the  kayga'u,  the  important  sociological 
details,  have  to  be  dragged  out  of  the  informant,  or,  to  put  it 
more  correctly,  he  has  to  be  made  to  enlarge  on  points,  to  roam 
over  all  the  subjects  covered  by  the  myth,  and  from  his  state- 
ments then,  one  has  to  pick  out  and  piece  together  the  other 
bits  of  the  puzzle.  On  the  other  hand,  the  names  of  the  people, 
the  unimportant  statements  of  what  they  did  and  how  they 
were  occupied  are  unfailingly  given. 

Let  us  adduce  now  the  kayga'u,  which  is  said  to  be  derived 
from  the  dog,  and  ultimately  from  his  mother  : 

KAYGA'U  OF  TOKULUBWAYDOGA. 

"  Tobunaygu  (repeated),  Manemanaygu  (repeated),  my 
mother  a  snake,  myself  a  snake  ;  myself  a  snake,  my 
mother  a  snake.  Tokulubwaydoga,  Isenadoga,  Matagagai, 
Kalaytaytu  ;  bulumava'u  tabugu  Madokei.  I  shall  befog 
the  front,  I  shall  shut  off  the  rear  ;  I  shall  befog  the  rear,  I 
shall  shut  off  the  front." 

This  exordium  contains  at  first  the  invocation  of  the  name 
of  the  mulukivausi,  who  was  the  source  of  the  spell.  Its 
pendant  Manemanaygu  is,  according  to  my  informant, 
derived  from  an  archaic  word  nema,  equivalent  to  the 
present  dayjyawa,  hand.  "  As  the  right  hand  is  to  the  left 
one,  so  is  Tobunaygu  to  Manemanaygu,"  which  was 
expressed  as  a  matter  of  fact  in  the  less  grammatically 
worded  form  ;  "  this  right  hand,  this  left  "  (clapped 
together)  "  so  Tobunaygu,  Manemanaygu." 

Whether  this  analysis  of  my  informant  is  correct  must 
remain  an  open  question.  It  must  be  remembered  that 
magic  is  not  taken  by  the  natives  as  an  ethnographic 


SHIPWRECK  265 

document,  allowing  of  interpretations  and  developments, 
but  as  an  instrument  of  power.  The  words  are  there  to 
act,  and  not  to  teach.  Questions  as  to  the  meaning  of 
magic,  as  a  rule,  puzzled  the  informants,  and  therefore  it 
is  not  easy  to  explain  a  formula  or  obtain  a  correct  com- 
mentary upon  it.  All  the  same  there  are  some  natives 
who  obviously  have  tried  to  get  to  the  bottom  of  what  the 
various  words  in  magic  represent. 

To  proceed  with  our  commentary,  the  phrase  "  My 
mother  a  snake,  etc.,"  was  thus  explained  to  me  by 
Molilakwa  :  "  Supposing  we  strike  a  snake,  already  it 
vanishes,  it  does  not  remain  ;  thus  also  we  human  beings, 
when  mulukwaiisi  catch  us,  we  disappear/'  That  is,  we 
disappear  after  having  spoken  this  magical  formula,  for  in  a 
formula  the  desired  result  is  always  expressed  in  antici- 
pation. Molilakwa's  description  of  a  snake's  behaviour  is, 
according  to  my  experience,  not  sound  Natural  History, 
but  it  probably  expresses  the  underlying  idea,  namely  the 
elusiveness  of  the  snake,  which  would  naturally  be  one  of 
the  metaphorical  figures  used  in  the  spell. 

The  string  of  words  following  the  invocation  of  the  snake 
are  all  mythical  names,  four  of  which  we  found  mentioned 
in  the  above  myth,  while  the  rest  remain  obscure.  The 
last-named,  that  of  Modokei,  is  preceded  by  the  words 
bulumavau  tabugit,  which  means,  '  recent  spirit  of  my 
ancestor,'  which  words  are  as  a  rule  used  in  spells  with 
reference  to  real  grandfathers  of  the  reciters. 

The  middle  part  of  the  spell  proceeds  : — 

"  I  shall  cover  the  eyes  of  the  witches  of  Kitava  ;  I 
shall  cover  the  eyes  of  the  witches  of  Kumwageya  ;  I  shall 
cover  the  eyes  of  the  witches  of  Iwa  ;  I  shall  cover  the 
eyes  of  the  witches  of  Gawa,  etc.,  etc.,"  enumerating  all  the 
villages  and  islands  renowned  for  their  witches.  This 
list  is  again  recited,  substituting  for  the  expression  "  I 
shall  cover,"  in  succession,  "  I  shall  befog,"  and  "  dew 
envelopes."  This  middle  part  needs  no  commentary. 

The  end  of  this  formula  runs  as  follows  : 

"  I  shall  kick  thy  body,  I  shall  take  thy  spirit  skirt,  I 
shall  cover  thy  buttocks,  I  shall  take  thy  mat,  a  pandanus 
mat,  I  shall  take  thy  mantle.  I  shall  strike  thee  with  my 
foot,  go,  fly  over  Tuma,  fly  away.  I  myself  in  the  sea 
(here  the  reciter's  name  is  mentioned),  I  shall  drift  away, 
well."  This  last  part  of  the  spell  is  so  much  alike  to  the 
end  of  the  spell  first  quoted  in  this  chapter,  that  no  com- 
mentary is  needed. 


266  SHIPWRECK 

The  mythological  and  magical  data  presented  in  this 
chapter  all  bear  upon  the  native  belief  in  flying  witches  and 
dangers  at  sea,  a  belief  in  which  elements  of  reality  are  strangely 
blended  with  traditionally  fixed  fancies,  in  a  way,  however,  not 
uncommon  to  human  belief  in  general.  It  is  time  now  to 
return  to  our  party  on  the  beach  at  Yakum,  who,  after  having 
spent  the  night  there,  next  morning  rig  up  their  masts,  and  with 
a  favourable  wind,  soon  reach  the  waters  of  Gumasila  and 
Domdom. 


CHAPTER   XI 
IN  THE  AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

I 

OUR  party,  sailing  from  the  North,  reach  first  the  main  island 
of  Gumasila,  a  tall,  steep  mountain  with  arched  lines  and 
great  cliffs,  suggesting  vaguely  some  huge  Gothic  monument. 
To  the  left,  a  heavy  pyramid,  the  island  of  Domdom,  recedes 
behind  the  nearer  mountain  as  the  travellers  approach.  The 
fleet  now  sails  along  the  westerly  shore  of  Gumasila,  on  which 
side  the  jungle,  interspersed  with  bald  patches,  ascends  a 
steep  slope,  ribbed  with  rocky  ridges,  and  creased  by  valleys 
which  run  at  their  foot  into  wide  bays.  Only  here  and  there 
can  be  seen  triangular  clearings,  signs  of  cultivation  made  by 
the  natives  from  the  other  side  of  the  island,  where  the  two 
villages  are  situated.  At  the  South-West  end  of  Gumasila, 
a  narrow  promontory  runs  into  a  flat,  low  point  with  a  sandy 
beach  on  both  sides.  On  the  North  side  of  the  point,  hidden 
from  the  villages,  the  fleet  comes  to  a  halt,  on  the  beach  of 
Giyawana  (called  by  the  Trobrianders  Giyasila).  This  is  the 
place  where  all  the  fleets,  arriving  from  the  North,  stop  before 
approaching  the  villages.  Here  also  the  inhabitants  of  the 
Amphletts  rest  for  a  day,  after  the  first  false  start  they  have 
made  from  the  villages,  and  before  they  actually  set  off  for  the 
Trobriands.  This  beach,  in  short,  is  the  Amphlettan  counter- 
part of  the  sandbank  Muwa.  It  was  also  here  that  I  surprised 
the  Gumasilan  canoes  on  a  full  moon  night,  in  March,  1918, 
after  they  had  started  to  join  the  uvalaku  expedition  to 
Sinaketa. 

On  this  beach,  the  Sinaketans  perform  the  final  stage  of 
Kula  magic,  before  approaching  their  partners  in  Gumasila. 
The  same  magic  will  be  repeated  before  arriving  in  Dobu,  and 
as  a  matter  of  fact,  when  the  objective  of  the  big  uvalaku  is 
Dobu,  the  full  and  ceremonial  performance  of  the  magic  might 


268  AMPHLETTS—SOCIOLOGY 

usually  be  deferred  till  then.  It  will  be  better  therefore  to 
postpone  the  description  of  this  magic  till  we  have  brought  our 
fleet  to  the  beach  of  Sarubwoyna.  Here  it  will  be  enough  to 
mention  that  on  occasions  when  magic  is  performed,  after  an 
hour's  or  half  hour's  pause  on  the  beach  of  Giyawana,  all  the 
men  get  into  their  canoes,  take  the  paddles  and  oars,  and  the 
fleet  sails  round  the  point  where,  in  a  small,  very  picturesque 
bay,  there  lies  the  smaller  village  of  Gumasila,  called  Nu'agasi 
(see  Plate  I).  This  village  in  olden  days  was  perched  on  a 
narrow  ledge  some  one  hundred  metres  above  the  sea  level,  a 
fastness  difficult  of  access,  and  overlooking  all  its  approaches. 
Now,  after  the  white  man's  influence  has  rendered  unnecessary 
all  precautions  against  raiding  parties,  the  village  has  come 
down  to  the  narrow  strip  of  foreshore,  a  bridge  between  the  sea 
and  a  small  swamp  formed  at  the  foot  of  the  hill.  Some  of  the 
canoes  will  come  to  this  beach,  the  others  will  sail  further, 
under  a  precipitous  black  rock  of  some  150  metres  high  and 
300  metres  wide  (see  Plate  XLII).  Turning  another  corner, 
they  arrive  at  the  big  village  of  Gumasila,  built  on  artificial 
stone  terraces,  surrounded  by  dykes  of  small  stones^  forming 
square  lagoons  and  diminutive  harbours  (compare  the  descrip- 
tion given  above  in  Chapter  I,  Division  V).  This  is  the  old 
village  which,  practically  inaccessible  by  sea,  formed  a  fastness 
of  a  different  kind  from  the  other,  high-perched  villages 
typical  of  this  district.  Exposed  to  the  full  onslaught  of  the 
South-Easterly  winds  and  seas,  against  which  it  was  protected 
by  its  stone  bulwarks  and  dykes,  it  was  approachable  only  in  all 
weathers  by  a  small  channel  to  the  South,  where  a  big  rock  and  a 
reef  shelter  it  from  the  rough  waters. 

Without  any  preliminary  welcoming  ceremony  or  formal 
reception,  the  Sinaketan  guests  now  leave  their  canoes  and 
disperse  among  the  villagers,  settle  down  in  groups  near  the 
houses  of  their  friends,  and  engage  in  betel  chewing  and 
conversations.  They  speak  in  Kiriwinian,  a  language  which 
is  universally  known  in  the  Amphletts.  Almost  as  soon  as  they 
go  ashore,  they  give  to  their  partners  presents  of  pari  (opening 
gift),  some  small  object,  such  as  a  comb,  a  lime  pot,  or  a  lime 
stick.  After  that,  they  await  some  Kula  gifts  to  be  given 
them.  The  most  important  headman  will  offer  such  a  gift 
first  to  Kouta'uya,  or  To'udawada,  whichever  of  them  is  the 
toli'uvalaku  of  the  occasion.  The  soft,  penetrating  sound  of  a 


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AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  269 

conch-shell  soon  announces  that  the  first  gift  has  been  given. 
Other  blasts  of  conch-shells  follow,  and  the  Knla  is  in  full 
swing.  But  here  again,  what  happens  in  the  Amphletts,  is 
only  a  minor  interlude  to  the  Sinaketan  adventurers,  bent  on 
the  bigger  goal  in  Dobu.  And  in  order  for  us  to  remain  in 
harmony  with  the  native  perspective  we  shall  also  wait  for  the 
detailed  and  circumstantial  description  of  the  Kula  pro- 
ceedings till  we  arrive  on  the  beach  of  Tu'utauna,  in  Dobu. 
The  concrete  account  of  how  such  a  visiting  fleet  is  received  and 
behaves  on  arrival  will  be  given,  when  I  describe  a  scene 
I  saw  with  my  own  eyes  in  the  village  of  Nabwageta,  another 
Amphlett  island,  when  sixty  Dobuan  canoes  arrived  there  on 
their  uvalaku,  en  route  for  Boyowa. 

To  give  a  definite  idea  of  the  conversations  which  take 
place  between  the  visitors  and  the  Amphlettans,  I  shall  give  a 
sample  noted  down,  during  a  visit  of  some  Trobrianders  to 
Nu'agasi,  the  smaller  village  of  Gumasila,  A  few  canoes  had 
arrived  a  day  or  two  before,  in  the  neighbouring  island, 
Nabwageta,  coming  from  the  small  Western  islands  of  the 
Trobriands  on  a  Kula.  One  of  them  paddled  across  to  Nu'agasi 
with  a  crew  of  some  six  men,  in  order  to  offer  pari  gifts  to  their 
partners  and  see  what  was  to  be  done  in  the  way  of  Kula.  The 
canoe  was  sighted  from  a  distance,  and  its  purpose  was  guessed 
at  once,  as  word  had  been  brought  before  of  the  arrival  in 
Nabwageta  of  this  small  expedition.  The  headman  of 
Nu'agasi,  Tovasana,  hurried  back  to  his  house  from  my  tent, 
where  I  was  taking  great  pains  to  obtain  some  ethnographic 
information  from  him. 

Tovasana  is  an  outspoken  character,  and  he  is  the  most 
important  headman  in  the  Amphletts.  I  am  not  using  the 
word  '  chief/  for  in  the  Amphletts,  as  I  have  said,  the  natives 
do  not  observe  either  the  court  ceremonial  with  crouching  and 
bending,  nor  do  the  headmen  have  any  power  or  economic 
influence,  at  all  comparable  with  those  of  the  Trobriands. 
Yet,  although  I  came  from  the  Trobriands,  I  was  struck  by  the 
authoritative  tone  used,  and  the  amount  of  influence  evidently 
wielded  by  Tovasana.  This  is  partly  due  undoubtedly  to  the 
lack  of  white  man's  interference,  which  has  so  undermined 
native  authority  and  morality  in  the  Trobriands,  whereas  the 
Amphletts  have  so  far  escaped  to  a  large  extent  Missionary 
teaching  and  Government  law  and  order.  On  the  other  hand, 


270  AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY 

however,  the  very  narrow  sphere  of  his  powers,  the  authority 
over  a  small  village,  consolidates  the  headman's  influence.  The 
oldest  and  the  most  aristocratic  by  descent  of  all  the  headmen, 
he  is  their  acknowledged  '  doyen/ 

In  order  to  receive  his  visitors  he  went  to  the  beach  in  front 
of  his  house  and  sat  there  on  a  log,  looking  impassively  over 
the  sea.  When  the  Trobrianders  arrived  each  man  took  a 
gift  and  went  to  his  partner's  house.  The  chief  did  not  rise  to 
meet  them,  nor  did  they  come  in  a  body  to  greet  him.  The 
toliwaga  came  towards  the  place  where  Tovasana  was  sitting  ; 
he  carried  a  bundle  of  taro  and  a  piece  of  gugu'a  (objects  of 
small  value,  such  as  combs,  lime  pots,  etc.)  These  he  laid 
down  near  the  seated  headman,  who,  however,  took  no  notice 
of  it.  A  small  boy,  a  grandchild  of  Tovasana,  I  think,  took 
up  the  gifts  and  put  them  into  his  house.  Then,  without 
having  yet  exchanged  a  word,  the  toliwaga  sat  down  on  the 
platform  next  to  Tovasana.  Under  a  shady  tree,  which 
spread  its  branches  like  a  canopy  above  the  bleached  canoe, 
the  men  formed  a  picturesque  group  sitting  cross-legged  on  the 
platform.  Beside  the  slim,  youthful  figure  of  the  Kaduwaga 
man,  the  old  Tovasana,  with  his  big,  roughly  carved  features, 
with  his  large  aquiline  nose  sticking  out  from  under  an  enormous 
turban-like  wig,  looked  like  an  old  gnome.  At  first  exchanging 
merely  a  word  or  two,  soon  they  dropped  into  more  animated 
conversation,  and  when  other  villagers  and  the  rest  of  the 
visitors  joined  them,  the  talk  became  general.  As  they  spoke 
in  Kiriwinian,  I  was  able  to  jot  down  the  beginning  of  their 
conversation. 

Tovasana  asked  : 

"  Where  have  you  anchored  ?  " 

"  In  Nabwageta." 

"  When  did  you  come  ?  " 

"  Yesterday." 

"  From  where  did  you  start  on  the  last  day  before 
arriving  ?  " 

"  From  Gabuwana." 

"  When  ?  " 

"  The  day  before  yesterday." 

"  What  wind  ?  " 

"  Started  from  home  with  yavata  ;  wind  changed. 
Arrived  on  sandbank  (Gabuwana)  ;  we  slept ;  so-and-so 
made  wind  magic  ;  wind  changed  again  ;  good  wind." 


AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  271 

Then  Tovasana  asked  the  visitors  about  one  of  the  chiefs 
from  the  island  of  Kayleula  (to  the  West  of  Kiriwina), 
and  when  he  was  going  to  give  him  a  big  pair  of  mwali. 
The  man  answered  they  do  not  know  ;  to  their  knowledge 
that  chief  has  no  big  mwali  at  present.  Tovasana  became 
very  angry,  and  in  a  long  harangue,  lapsing  here  and  there 
into  the  Gumasila  language,  he  declared  that  he  would 
never  hula  again  with  that  chief,  who' is  a  topiki  (mean 
man),  who  has  owed  him  for  a  long  time  a  pair  of  mwali 
as  yotile  (return  gift),  and  who  always  is  slow  in  making 
Kula.  A  string  of  other  accusations  about  some  day  pots 
given  by  Tovasana  to  the  same  chief,  and  some  pigs 
promised  and  never  given,  were  also  made  by  the  angry 
headman.  The  visitors  listened  to  it  with  polite  assent, 
uttering  here  and  there  some  noncommital  remark.  They, 
in  their  turn,  complained  about  some  sago,  which  they  had 
hoped  to  receive  in  Nabwageta,  but  which  was  churlishly 
refused  for  some  reason  or  other  to  all  the  men  of 
Kaduwaga,  Kaysiga  and  Kuyawa. 

Tovasana  then  asked  them,  "  How  long  are  you  going  to 
stay  ?  " 

"  Till  Dobu  men  come." 

"  They  will  come,"  said  Tovasana,  "  not  in  two  days, 
not  in  three  days,  not  in  four  days  ;  they  will  come 
tomorrow,  or  at  the  very  last,  the  day  after  tomorrow." 

"  You  go  with  them  to  Boyowa  ?  " 

"  I  sail  first  to  Vakuta,  then  to  Sinaketa  with  the  Dobu 
men.  They  sail  to  Susuwa  beach  to  fish,  I  go  to  your 
villages,  to  Kaduwaga,  to  Kaysiga,  to  Kuyawa.  Is  there 
plenty  of  mwali  in  your  villages  ?  " 

"  Yes,  there  are.     So-and-so  has     .     .     ." 

Here  followed  a  long  string  of  personal  names  of  big 
armshells,  the  approximate  number  of  smaller,  nameless 
ones,  and  the  names  of  the  people  in  whose  possession  they 
were  at  the  time. 

The  interest  of  both  hearers  and  speakers  was  very  obvious, 
and  Tovasana  gave  the  approximate  dates  of  his  movements  to 
his  visitors.  Full  moon  was  approaching,  and  the  natives  have 
got  names  for  every  day  during  the  week  before  and  after  full 
moon,  and  the  following  and  preceding  days  can  therefore  be 
reckoned.  Also,  every  seven-day  period  within  a  moon  is 
named  after  the  quarter  which  falls  in  it.  This  allows  the 
natives  to  fix  dates  with  a  fair  exactitude.  The  present  example 
shows  the  way  in  which,  in  olden  times,  the  movements  of  the 


272  AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY 

various  expeditions  were  known  over  enormous  areas  ;  nowa- 
days, when  white  men's  boats  with  native  crews  often  move 
from  one  island  to  the  other,  the  news  spreads  even  more 
easily.  In  former  tknes,  small  preliminary  expeditions  such  as 
the  one  we  have  just  been  describing,  would  fix  the  dates  and 
make  arrangements  often  for  as  much  as  a  year  ahead. 

The  Kaduwaga  men  next  inquired  as  to  whether  any 
strangers  from  the  Trobriands  were  then  staying  in  Gumasila. 
The  answer  was  that  there  was  in  the  village  one  man  from 
Ba'u,  and  one  from  Sinaketa  Then  inquiries  were  made  as  to 
how  many  Kula  necklaces  there  were  in  Gumasila,  and  the 
conversation  drifted  again  into  Kula  technicalities. 

It  is  quite  customary  for  men  from  the  Trobriands  to  remain 
for  a  long  time  in  the  Amphletts,  that  is,  from  one  expedition 
to  another.  For  some  weeks  or  even  months,  they  live  in  the 
house  of  their  partner,  friend,  or  relative,  careful  to  keep  to  the 
customs  of  the  country.  They  will  sit  about  with  the  men  of 
the  village  and  talk.  They  will  help  in  the  work  and  go  out  on 
fishing  expeditions.  These  latter  will  be  specially  attractive 
to  a  Trobriander,  a  keen  fisherman  himself,  who  here  finds  an 
entirely  new  type  of  this  pursuit.  Whether  an  expedition 
would  be  made  on  one  of  the  sandbanks,  where  the  fishermen 
remain  for  a  few  days,  casting  their  big  nets  for  dugong  and 
turtle  ;  or  whether  they  would  go  out  in  a  small  canoe,  trying 
to  catch  the  jumping  gar  fish  with  a  fishing  kite  ;  or  throwing 
a  fish  trap  into  the  deep  sea — all  these  would  be  a  novelty  to  the 
Trobriander,  accustomed  only  to  the  methods  suitable  to  the 
shallow  waters  of  the  Lagoon,  swarming  with  fish. 

In  one  point  the  Trobriander  would  probably  find  his 
sojourn  in  the  Amphletts  uncongenial ;  he  would  be  entirely 
debarred  from  any  intercourse  with  women.  Accustomed  in 
his  country  to  easy  intrigues,  here  he  has  completely  to  abstain, 
not  only  from  sexual  relations  with  women  married  or  un- 
married, but  even  from  moving  with  them  socially,  in  the  free 
and  happy  manner  characteristic  of  Boyowa.  One  of  my  main 
informants,  Layseta,  a  Sinaketa  man,  who  spent  several  years 
in  the  Amphletts,  confessed  to  me,  not  without  shame  and 
regret,  that  he  never  succeeded  in  having  any  intrigues  with 
the  women  there.  To  save  his  face,  he  claimed  that  he  had 
had  several  Amphlett  belles  declaring  their  love  to  him,  and 
offering  their  favours,  but  he  always  refused  them  : 


AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  273 

"  I  feared  ;  I  feared  the  bowo'u  of  Gumasila  ;  they  are 
very  bad." 

The  bowo'u  are  the  local  sorcerers  of  the  Amphletts. 
Whatever  we  might  think  about  Layseta's  temptations — and 
his  personal  appearance  and  charm  do  not  make  his  boastings 
very  credible — and  whether  he  was  afraid  of  sorcery  or  of  a 
sound  thrashing,  the  fact  remains  that  a  Trobriander  would  have 
to  change  his  usual  mode  of  behaviour  when  in  the  Amphletts, 
and  keep  away  from  the  women  entirely.  When  big  parties 
arrive  in  Gumasila,  or  Nabwageta,  the  women  run  away,  and 
camp  in  the  bush  till  the  beach  is  clear. 

The  Amphlettans,  on  the  contrary,  were  used  to  receive 
favours  from  unmarried  women  in  Sinaketa.  Nowadays,  the 
male  inhabitants  of  that  village,  always  disapproving  of  the 
custom,  though  not  to  the  extent  of  taking  any  action, 
tell  the  Amphlettans  that  the  white  man's  Government  has 
prohibited  the  men  from  Gumasila  and  Nabwageta  to  have 
sexual  relations  in  Sinaketa.  One  of  the  very  few  occasions, 
when  the  men  from  the  Amphletts  showed  any  interest  in 
talking  to  me  was  when  they  asked  me  whether  this  was  true. 

"  The  Sinaketa  men  tell  us  that  we  will  go  to  jail  if  we 
sleep  with  girls  in  Sinaketa.  Would  the  Government  put 
us  into  jail,  in  truth  ?  " 

As  usually,  I  simply  disclaimed  all  knowledge  of  the  white 
man's  arcana  in  such  matters. 

The  small  party  of  Kaduwaga  men,  whose  visit  to  Tovasana 
I  have  just  been  describing,  sat  there  for  about  two  hours, 
smoked  and  chewed  betel-nut,  the  conversation  flagging  now 
and  then,  and  the  men  looking  into  the  distance  with  the 
habitual  self-important  expression  worn  on  such  occasions. 
After  the  final  words  about  mutual  plans  were  exchanged,  and 
a  few  pots  had  been  brought  by  small  boys  to  the  canoe  as 
talo'i  (farewell  gift  to  the  visitors),  they  embarked,  and  paddled 
back  three  or  four  miles  across  to  Nabwageta. 

We  must  imagine  the  big  Kula  party  from  Sinaketa,  whom 
we  just  watched  landing  in  the  two  villages  of  Gumasila, 
behaving  more  or  less  in  the  same  manner  ;  conducting  similar 
conversations,  offering  the  same  type  of  pari  'gifts  to  their 
partners.  Only  everything  happens  of  course  on  a  much 
bigger  scale.  There  is  a  big  group  seated  before  each  house, 


274  AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY 

parties  walk  up  and  down  the  village,  the  sea  in  front  of  it 
is  covered  with  the  gaudy,  heavily  laden  canoes.  In  the  little 
village,  of  which  Tovasana  is  headman,  the  two  chiefs,  To'uda- 
wada  and  Kouta'uya,  will  be  seated  on  the  same  platform,  on 
which  we  saw  the  old  man  receiving  his  other  guests.  The 
other  headmen  of  the  Sinaketans  will  have  gone  to  the  bigger 
village  round  the  corner,  and  will  encamp  there  under  the  tall 
palms,  looking  across  the  straits  towards  the  pyramidal  forms  of 
Domdom,  and  further  South,  to  the  main  island  fronting  them 
with  the  majestic  form  of  Koyatabu.  Here,  among  the  small 
houses  on  piles,  scattered  picturesquely  through  the  maze  of 
little  harbours,  lagoons  and  dykes,  large  groups  of  people  will 
be  seated  on  mats  of  plaited  coco-nut,  each  man  as  a  rule  under 
the  dwelling  of  his  partner,  chewing  betel-nut  stolidly,  and 
watching  stealthily  the  pots  being  brought  out  to  be  presented 
to  them,  and  still  more  eagerly  awaiting  the  giving  of  Kula 
gifts,  although  he  remains  to  a  superficial  glance  quite 
impassive. 

II 

In  Chapter  III  I  spoke  about  the  sociology  of  Kula,  and 
gave  a  concise  definition  of  partnership  with  its  functions  and 
obligations.  I  said  there  that  people  enter  into  this  relation- 
ship in  a  definite  manner,  and  remain  in  it  for  the  rest  of  their 
life.  I  also  said  that  the  number  of  partners  a  man  possesses, 
depends  upon  his  social  position  and  rank.  The  protective 
character  of  an  overseas  partner  becomes  now  clearer,  after  we 
have  realised  the  nervous  tension  with  which  each  Kula  party 
in  olden  days  would  have  approached  a  land  full  of  mulukwausi, 
bowo'u  and  other  forms  of  sorcery,  a  land  from  which  originate 
the  very  tauva'u  themselves.*  To  have  a  friend  there,  one 
who  will  not  on  the  surface  of  it  have  bad  intentions,  is  a  great 
boon.  What  this  really  means  to  the  natives  can,  however, 
only  be  realised  when  we  arrive  at  Dobu,  learn  the  special 
safety  magic  performed  there  and  find  how  genuinely  serious 
these  apprehensions  are. 

We  must  now  make  another  short  digression  from  our  con- 
secutive account,  and  discuss  the  several  aspects  of  the  sociology 
of  the  Kula  one  after  the  other. 

*  See  Chapter  II,  Division  VII. 


AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  275 

1.  Sociological  Limitations  to  the  Participation  in  the  Kula. — 
Not  everyone  who  lives  within  the  cultural  sphere  of  the  Kula 
does  participate  in  it.     More  especially  in  the  Trobriand  Islands, 
there  are  whole  districts  which  do  not  practise  the  Kula.     Thus 
a  series  of  villages  in  the  North  of  the  main  Island,  the  villages 
on  the  Island  of  Tuma,  as  well  as  the  industrial  villages  of 
Kuboma  and  the  agricultural  ones  of  Tilataula  do  not  practise 
Kula.     In    villages    like    Sinaketa,    Vakuta,    Gumasila    and 
Nabwageta,  every  man  carries  on  the  Kula..     The  same  applies 
to  the  small  Islands  which  link  up  the  big  gaps  of  the  Kula 
chain,  the  Islands  of  Kitava,  Iwa,  Gawa  and  Kwayawata, 
strewn  on  the  seas  between  the  Trobriands  and  Woodlark 
Island,  to  Tubetube  and  Wari,  etc.,  etc.      In   the   Dobuan 
speaking  district,  on  the  other  hand,  I  think  that  certain  village 
complexes  either  do  not  practice  Kula  at  all,  or  else  practice 
it  on  a  small  scale,  that  is,  their  headmen  have  only  a  few 
partners  in  the  neighbouring  villages. 

In  some  of  the  big  chiefs'  villages  in  Kinwina  there 
are  certain  people  who  never  practice  Kula.  Thus  in 
a  village  where  the  headman  has  the  rank  of  guya'u 
(chief)  or  gumguya'u  (minor  chief)  the  commoners  of  the 
lowest  rank  and  unrelated  to  the  headman  are  not  sup- 
posed to  carry  on  the  Kula.  In  olden  days  this  rule  would 
be  very  strictly  observed,  and  nowadays  even,  though  some- 
what relaxed,  not  many  commoners  of  this  description  practice 
the  Kula.  Limitations  as  to  entry  into  the  Kula,  therefore, 
exist  only  in  big  Kula  districts  such  as  that  of  Dobn  and  of  the 
Trobriands,  and  they  are  partly  local,  excluding  whole 
villages,  and  partly  social,  excluding  certain  people  of  low 
rank. 

2.  The  Relation  of  Partnership. — The  name  for  an  overseas 
partner  is  in  the  Trobriand  language  karayta'u  ;  '  my  partner  ' 
is  styled  ulo  karayta'u,  ulo  being  the  possessive  pronoun  of 
remote  relation.     In  Gumasila  he  is  called  ulo  ta'u,  which  means 
simply  '  my  man  '  ;    in  Dobuan,  yegu  gumagi      The  inland 
partners  are  known  in  Kiriwinian  by  the  term  denoting  a  friend, 
'  lubaygu,'   the  suffixed  possessive  pronoun  gu  being  that  of 
nearest  possession. 

Only  after  this  relationship  has  been  established  between 
two  men,  can  the  two  make  Kula  with  one  another.  An 
overseas  visitor  would  as  a  rule  go  to  his  partner's  house  and 


276  AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY 

offer  him  a  small  present  as  pari.  This  again  would  be  returned 
by  the  local  man  by  means  of  a  talo'i  present  There  would 
not  be  any  great  intimacy  between  two  overseas  partners.  But, 
in  sharp  contrast  to  the  essential  hostility  between  two  strange 
tribesmen,  such  a  relationship  of  friendship  would  stand  out  as 
the  most  remarkable  deviation  from  the  general  rule.  In  inland 
relations  between  two  partners  of  neighbouring  villages,  the 
closeness  and  intimacy  would  be  relatively  small  as  com- 
pared to  other  ties.  This  relation  was  denned  to  me  in 
these  words  : 

"  My  partner  same  as  my  clansman  (kakaveyogu) — he 
might  fight  me.  My  real  kinsman  (veyogu),  same  navel- 
string,  would  always  side  with  us." 

The  best  way  of  obtaining  detailed  information,  and  of 
eliminating  any  errors  which  might  have  crept  into  ethno- 
graphic generalisations,  is  to  collect  concrete  data.  I  have 
drawn  up  a  complete  list  of  the  partners  of  Kouta'uya,  who  is 
one  of  the  biggest  Kula  men  in  the  whole  Ring  ;  another  list 
of  a  smaller  Sinaketa  headman,  Toybayoba  ;  and  of  course  I 
know  several  complements  of  partners  of  smaller  men,  who,  as 
as  rule,  have  about  four  to  six  partners  each. 

The  full  list  of  Kouta'uya  includes  fifty-five  men  in  the 
Northern  Half  of  Boyowa,  that  is,  in  Luba,  Kulumata  and 
Kiriwina.  From  these  the  chief  receives  armshells.  To  the 
South,  his  partners  in  the  Southern  districts  of  Boyowa  and 
Vakuta  are  twenty-three  by  number  ;  in  the  Amphletts  eleven, 
and  twenty-seven  in  Dobu.  Thus  we  see  that  the  numbers  to 
the  South  and  North  almost  balance,  the  Southern  exceeding 
the  Northern  by  six.  These  numbers  include  his  partners  in 
Sinaketa,  where  he  makes  Kula  with  all  his  fellow  chiefs,  and 
with  all  the  headmen  of  the  divisional  villages,  and  in  his  own 
little  village  he  kulas  with  his  sons.  But  even  there,  everyone 
of  his  partners  is  either  South  or  North  to  him,  that  is,  either 
gives  him  the  necklaces  or  armshells. 

All  the  clans  are  represented  in  the  list.  Often  when  asked 
with  regard  to  the  name  of  some  man,  why  he  is  in  partnership 
with  him,  the  answer  would  be — "  Because  he  is  my  kinsman," 
which  means,  in  this  case,  clansman  of  equal  rank.  Men  of 
other  clans  are  included,  as  '  friends/  or  relatives-m-law,  or 
for  some  other  reason  more  or  less  imaginary.  I  shall  speak 


AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  277 

presently  of  the  mechanism  through  which  the  man  enters  on 
this  relation. 

The  list  of  Toybayoba's  partners  includes  twelve  men  to  the 
North,  four  in  Southern  Boyowa,  three  in  the  Amphletts  and 
eleven  in  Dobu,  the  balance  here  also  being  on  the  Southern  side. 
As  said  above,  minor  men  might  have  anything  between  four  to 
ten  partners  all  told,  whereas  there  are  men  in  northern  Boyowa 
who  have  only  two  partners,  one  on  each  side  of  the  ring,  so 
to  speak,  with  whom  they  make  Kula. 

In  drawing  up  these  lists,  which  I  shall  not  reproduce  here 
in  extenso,  another  striking  feature  comes  to  light  :  on  both 
sides,  there  is  a  definite  geographical  limit,  beyond  which  a 
man  cannot  have  any  partners.  For  all  men  in  the  village  of 
Sinaketa,  for  instance,  this  limit,  as  regards  the  armshells, 
coincides  with  the  furthest  boundary  of  Kiriwina  ;  that  is,  no 
man  from  Sinaketa  has  any  partners  in  Kitava,  which  is  the 
next  Kula  district  beyond  Kiriwina.  South,  in  the  direction 
from  which  the  soulava  are  received,  the  villages  at  the  South- 
East  end  of  Fergusson  Island  are  the  last  places  where  partners 
of  Sinaketan  men  are  still  to  be  found.  The  small  Island  of 
Dobu  itself  lies  just  beyond  this  boundary,  and  no  man  in  this 
Island  or  in  any  of  the  villages  on  Normanby  Island  makes 
Kula  with  the  Sinaketans  (compare  the  circles,  indicating  Kula 
Communities  on  Map  V). 

Beyond  these  districts,  the  men  still  know  the  names  of 
what  could  be  called  their  partners-once-removed,  that  is, 
the  partners  of  their  partners.  In  the  case  of  a  man  who  has 
only  a  couple  of  partners  on  each  side,  who,  again  being  modest 
men,  have  also  only  one  or  two,  this  relationship  is  not  devoid  of 
importance.  If  I,  in  Sinaketa,  have  one  partner,  say  in 
Kiriwina,  who  again  has  one  partner  in  Kitava,  it  is  no  small 
matter  for  me  to  learn  that  this  Kitava  man  just  obtained 
a  splendid  pair  of  armshells.  For  this  means  that  there  is  about 
a  quarter  of  a  chance  of  my  receiving  these  armshells,  on  the 
supposition  that  the  Kitavan  and  Kiriwinian  have  two  partners 
each  between  whom  they  can  choose  in  bestowing  them.  In 
the  case  of  a  big  chief  like  Kouta'uya,  however,  the  number  of 
once-removed  partners  becomes  so  great  that  they  lose  any 
personal  significance  for  him.  Kouta'uya  has  some  twenty-five 
partners  in  Kiriwina  ;  among  them  To'uluwa,  the  big  chief, 
makes  Kula  with  more  than  half  of  all  the  men  in  Kitava 


278  AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY 

Some  other  of  Kouta'uya's  partners  in  Kiriwina,  of  lesser  rank, 
yet  quite  important,  also  make  Kula  with  a  great  number,  so 
that  probably  practically  everybody  in  Kitava  is  Kouta'uya's 
partner-once-removed. 

If  we  were  to  imagine  that  on  the  Kula  Ring  there  are  many 
people  who  have  only  one  partner  on  each  side,  then  the  Ring 
would  consist  of  a  large  number  of  closed  circuits,  on  each  of 
which  the  same  articles  would  constantly  pass.  Thus  if  A  in 
Kiriwina  always  kulas  with  B  in  Sinaketa  who  kulas  with  C 
in  Tubetube,  who  kulas  with  D  in  Murua,  who  kulas  with  E 
in  Kitava,  who  kulas  with  A  in  Kiriwina,  then  A  B  C  D  E  F 
would  form  such  one  strand  in  the  big  Kula  circuit.  If  an 
armshell  got  into  the  hands  of  one  of  them,  it  could  never  leave 
this  strand.  But  the  Kula  Ring  is  nothing  approaching  this, 
because  every  small  Kula  partner  has,  as  a  rule,  on  one  side  or 
the  other,  a  big  one,  that  is  a  chief.  And  every  chief  plays  the 
part  of  a  shunting-station  for  Kula  objects.  Having  so  many 
partners  on  each  side,  he  constantly  transfers  an  object  from 
one  strand  to  another.  Thus,  any  article  which  on  its  rounds 
has  travelled  through  the  hands  of  certain  men,  may  on  its 
second  round  come  through  an  entirely  different  channel. 
This,  of  course,  supplies  a  large  part  of  the  zest  and  excitement 
of  the  Kula  exchange. 

The  designation  of  such  a  partner-once-removed  in  the 
language  of  Kiriwina  is  muri-muri.  A  man  will  say  that  such 
and  such  a  one  is  '  my  partner-once-removed/  '  ulo  murimuri.' 
Another  expression  connected  with  this  relationship  is  to  inquire 
'  whose  hand  '  has  passed  on  such  and  such  a  vaygu'a.  When 
To'uluwa  gives  a  pair  of  armshells  to  Kouta'uya,  this  latter 
will  ask  :  '  availe  yamala  (whose  hand) '  ?  The  answer  is 
'  yamala  Pwata'i,'  ('  the  hand  of  Pwatai  ').  And,  as  a  rule, 
more  or  less  the  following  conversation  will  ensue  :  "  who 
gave  this  pair  of  armshells  to  Pwata'i ?  "  "how  long  were  they 
kept  by  a  man  in  the  Island  of  Yeguma,  and  then  distributed 
on  the  occasion  of  a  so'i  (feast)  ?  "  "  when  they  had  been 
the  last  time  in  Boyowa  ?  "  etc.,  etc. 

3.  Entering  the  Kula  Relationship. — In  order  to  become  a 
practising  member  of  the  Kula,  a  man  must  have  passed  the 
stage  of  adolescence ;  he  must  have  the  status  and  rank  required, 
that  is  in  such  villages  where  this  condition  is  demanded  ; 
he  must  know  the  magic  of  the  Kula  ;  and  last,  not  least,  he 


AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  279 

must  be  in  possession  of  a  piece  of  vaygu'a  The  membership, 
with  all  its  concomitant  implications,  may  be  received  from  the 
father,  who  teaches  his  son  the  magic,  gives  him  a  piece  of 
vaygu'a,  and  provides  him  with  a  partner,  very  often  in  his 
own  person. 

Supposing  one  of  the  sons  of  Kouta'uya  has  reached  the 
stage  where  a  lad  may  begin  to  hula.  The  chief  will  have  been 
teaching  him  the  spells  for  some  time  already.  Moreover  the 
lad,  who  from  childhood  has  taken  part  in  overseas  expeditions, 
has  many  a  time  seen  the  rites  performed  and  heard  the  spells 
uttered.  When  the  time  is  ripe,  Kouta'uya,  having  the  conch- 
shell  blown,  and  with  all  due  formalities,  presents  a  soulava  to 
his  son.  This  latter,  soon  afterwards,  goes  somewhere  North. 
Perhaps  he  goes  only  to  one  of  the  neighbouring  villages  within 
Sinaketa,  perhaps  he  accompanies  his  father  on  a  visit  as  far 
North  as  Omarakana,  and  in  any  case  he  makes  Kula,  either 
with  one  of  his  father's  friends  and  partners,  or  with  a  special 
friend  of  his  own.  Thus,  at  one  stroke,  the  lad  is  equipped  with 
magic,  vaygu'a,  and  two  partners,  one  of  whom  is  his  father. 
His  northern  partner  will  give  him  in  due  course  an  armshell, 
and  this  he  will  probably  offer  to  his  father.  The  transactions 
once  started  continue.  His  father  soon  gives  him  another 
vaygua,  which  he  may  hula  with  the  same  northern  partner,  or 
he  may  try  to  establish  another  partnership.  The  next 
mwali  (armshells)  he  receives  from  the  North,  he  will  probably 
give  to  another  partner  in  the  South,  and  thus  establish  a  new 
relationship.  A  chief's  son,  who  is  always  a  commoner 
himself  (since  the  chief  cannot  marry  within  his  own  sub-clan 
and  the  son  has  the  status  of  his  mother),  would  not  multiply  his 
partners  beyond  the  limit  numerically  given  by  the  above 
mentioned  partners  of  Toybayoba. 

Not  everyone,  however,  is  as  fortunate  as  to  be  the  son  of  a 
chief,  which  in  the  Trobriands  is,  on  the  whole,  one  of  the 
most  enviable  positions,  since  it  confers  many  privileges,  and 
entails  no  special  responsibilities.  A  young  chief  himself 
would  have  to  pay  substantially  for  establishing  his  position  in 
the  Kula,  for  a  chief  is  always  the  son  of  a  woman  of  high  rank, 
and  the  nephew  of  a  chief,  though  his  father  may  be  a  commoner 
of  small  influence  only.  In  any  case,  his  maternal  uncle  will 
expect  from  him  some  pokala  (offerings  by  instalment),  in  pay- 
ment for  magic,  vaygu'a,  and  finally  for  a  leading  position  in 


280  AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY 

the  Kula.  The  young  chief  would  marry,  and  thus  acquire 
wealth  within  limits,  and  with  this  he  would  have  to  give 
presents  to  his  maternal  uncle,  who  in  turn  would  introduce 
him  into  the  Kula,  exactly  as  a  chief  does  his  son,  only  not  dis- 
interestedly. 

A  commoner  enters  into  the  Kula  like  a  chief,  with  the  only 
exception  that  everything  is  on  a  smaller  scale,  the  amount  of 
the  pokala  which  he  gives  to  his  maternal  uncle,  the  vaygu'a 
which  he  receives,  and  the  number  of  partners  with  whom  he 
kulas.  When  a  man  gives  to  another  a  piece  of  vaygu'a,  of  the 
Kula  kind,  but  not  as  a  Kula  exchange  but  as  a  gift,  let  us  say  as 
youlo  (gift  in  repayment  for  the  harvest  supply  offerings,  see 
above,  Chapter  VI,  Division  VI),  this  vaygu'a  does  not  leave 
the  Kula  Ring.  The  receiver,  if  he  had  not  been  in  the  Kula 
yet,  enters  into  it  by  acquiring  the  vaygu'a,  and  can  then  choose 
his  partner,  and  go  on  with  the  exchange. 

There  is  one  important  qualification  of  the  statement 
made  at  the  beginning  of  this  section.  I  said  there  that  a  man 
entering  the  Kula  Ring,  must  learn  the  mwasila  magic.  This 
refers  only  to  those  who  practise  overseas  Kula.  For  people 
who  do  only  the  inland  exchange,  magic  is  not  necessary,  and  in 
fact  it  is  never  learned  by  them. 

4.  Participation  of  Women  in  the  Kula. — As  I  have  said  in 
the  general  descriptive  chapter  on  the  Kula  tribes,  the  position 
of  women  among  them  is  by  no  means  characterised  by  oppres- 
sion or  social  insignificance.  They  have  their  own  sphere  of 
influence,  which,  in  certain  cases  and  in  certain  tribes,  is  of  great 
importance.  The  Kula,  however,  is  essentially  a  man's  type  of 
activity.  As  mentioned  above,  in  the  section  between 
Sinaketa  and  Dobu,  women  do  not  sail  on  the  big  expeditions. 
From  Kiriwina  young,  unmarried  girls  would  sail  East  to 
Kitava,  Iwa,  and  Gawa,  and  from  these  Islands  even  old, 
married  women,  indeed  whole  families,  come  to  Kiriwina. 
But  they  do  not  carry  on  overseas  Kula  exchange,  neither 
among  themselves,  nor  with  men. 

In  Kiriwina,  some  women,  notably  the  chief's  wives,  are 
admitted  to  the  honour  and  privilege  of  exchanging  vaygu'a, 
though  in  such  cases  the  transactions  are  done  en  famille.  To 
take  a  concrete  case,  in  October  or  November,  1915,  To'uluwa, 
the  chief  of  Omarakana,  brought  a  fine  haul  of  mwali  from 
Kitava.  The  best  pair  of  these  he  presented  to  his  veteran  wife, 


AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  281 

Bokuyoba,  a  wife  whom  he  had  inherited  from  his  elder  brother 
Numakala.  Bokuyoba  in  turn  gave  the  pair,  without  much 
delay,  to  Kadamwasila,  the  favourite  wife  of  the  chief,  the 
mother  of  five  sons  and  one  daughter.  She  again  gave  it  to  her 
son,  Namwana  Guyau,  who  kula'd  it  on  to  some  of  his  southern 
partners.  Next  time  he  receives  a  soulava  necklace,  he  will 
give  it,  not  to  his  father  directly,  but  to  his  mother,  who  will 
hand  it  over  to  her  senior  colleague,  and  this  venerable  lady  will 
give  it  to  To'uluwa.  The  whole  transaction  is  evidently  a 
complimentary  interpolation  of  the  two  giyovila  (chief's  wives) 
in  between  the  simple  transaction  of  the  chief  giving  the 
vaygu'a  to  his  son.  This  interpolation  gives  the  women  much 
pleasure,  and  is  highly  valued  by  them.  In  fact,  at  that  time 
I  heard  more  about  that  than  about  all  the  rest  of  the  exchanges 
associated  with  this  overseas  trip. 

In  Southern  Boyowa,  that  is  in  Sinaketa  and  Vakuta,  the 
role  of  women  is  similar,  but  they  play  besides  another  part. 
A  man  would  sometimes  send  his  wife  with  a  Kula  gift  to  his 
partner  in  the  neighbouring  village  On  some  occasions,  when 
he  needs  vaygu'a  very  badly,  as  for  instance  when  he  is  expecting 
some  uvalaku  visitors,  his  wife  may  help  him  to  obtain  the 
vaygu'a  from  that  partner.  For,  though  this  latter  might 
refuse  to  give  it  to  his  Sinaketan  partner,  he  would  not  do  so  to 
his  wife.  It  must  be  added  that  no  sexual  motives  are  associ- 
ated with  it,  and  that  it  is  only  a  sort  of  customary  compliment 
paid  to  the  fair  sex. 

In  Dobu,  the  wife,  or  the  sister  of  a  man,  is  always  credited 
with  a  great  influence  over  his  Kula  decisions.  Therefore, 
there  is  a  special  form  of  magic,  used  by  the  Sinaketans,  in 
order  to  act  on  the  minds  of  the  Dobuan  women.  Although, 
in  matters  of  sex,  a  Trobriander  would  have  absolutely  to  keep 
aloof  from  Dobuan  women,  married  or  unmarried,  he  would 
approach  them  with  nice  speeches  and  gifts  in  matters  of  Kula. 
He  would  reproach  an  unmarried  girl  with  her  brother's 
conduct  towards  him.  She  would  then  ask  for  a  piece  of  betel 
nut.  This  would  be  given  with  some  magic  spoken  over  it,  and 
the  girl,  it  is  believed,  would  then  influence  her  brother  to  kula 
with  his  partner.* 

*  I  cannot  tell  what  sort  of  influence  this  would  be,  exercised  by  a  sister 
over  her  brother  in  Dobu.  I  do  not  even  know  whether,  in  that  district,  there 
obtains  the  same  taboo  between  brother  and  sister  as  in  the  Trobriands. 


282  AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY 

III 

In  the  short  outline  of  the  Amphlett  tribe  which  was  given 
in  Chapter  II,  Division  IV,  I  called  them  '  typical  monopolists/ 
both  with  reference  to  their  economic  position  and  to  their 
character.  Monopolists  they  are  in  two  respects,  namely  as 
manufacturers  of  the  wonderful  clay  pots  which  form  the  only 
supply  for  the  surrounding  districts  ;  and  in  the  second  place, 
as  a  commercial  community,  situated  half-way  between  the 
populous  country  of  Dobu,  with  its  rich  gardens  and  coco-nut 
plantations,  on  the  one  hand,  and  the  Trobriands,  the  main 
industrial  community  in  Eastern  New  Guinea  on  the  other. 

The  expression  '  monopolists  '  must,  however,  be  correctly 
understood.  The  Amphletts  are  not  a  centre  of  commercial 
middle-men,  constantly  busy  importing  and  exporting  desirable 
utilities.  Only  about  once  or  twice  a  year,  a  big  expedition 
comes  to  their  Islands,  and  every  few  months  they  themselves 
will  sail  South-East  or  North  and  again  receive  visits  from 
smaller  expeditions  from  one  of  the  neighbours  or  the  other.  It 
is  through  just  such  small  expeditions  that  they  collect  a  relat- 
tively  considerable  amount  of  utilities  from  all  surrounding 
districts,  and  these  they  can  give  to  such  visitors  as  need  and 
desire  them.  Nor  would  they  impose  high  prices  on  any  such 
exchange,  but  they  are  certainly  considered  less  liberal,  less 
ready  to  give  or  to  trade  and  always  on  the  look  out  for  higher 
return  gifts  and  extras.  In  their  bartering  away  of  the  clay 
pots,  they  also  cannot  ask  extortionate  prices,  such  as,  according 
to  the  laws  of  supply  and  demand,  they  could  impose  on  their 
neighbours.  For,  no  more  than  any  other  natives,  can  they  run 
counter  to  customary  rules,  which  regulate  this  exchange  as 
much  as  all  others.  Indeed,  considering  the  great  amount 
of  trouble  which  they  have  in  obtaining  the  clay,  and  the  high 
degree  of  skill  necessary  to  produce  the  pots,  the  prices  for 
which  they  sell  them  are  very  low.  But  here  again,  their 
manners  over  this  transaction  are  distinctly  haughty,  and  they 
are  well  aware  of  their  value  as  potters  and  distributors  of  pots 
to  the  other  natives. 

A  few  more  words  must  be  said  about  their  pot  making 
industry  as  well  as  about  the  trade  in  these  islands. 

The  natives  of  the  Amphletts  are  exclusive  manufacturers 
of  pottery,  within  a  wide  radius.  They  are  the  only  purveyors 


AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  283 

to  the  Trobrianders,  to  the  inhabitants  of  the  Marshall  Bennett 
Islands,  and  also,  I  believe,  all  the  claypots  in  Woodlark  come 
from  the  Amphletts.*  To  the  South,  they  export  their  pots  to 
Dobu,  Du'a'u,  and  further  South  as  far  as  Milne  Bay.  This 
is  not  all,  however,  for  although  in  some  of  these  farther 
districts  the  Amphlett  pots  are  used  side  by  side  with  other 
ones,  they  are  infinitely  superior  to  any  earthenware  found  in 
the  whole  of  British  New  Guinea.  Of  a  large  size,  yet  extremely 
thin,  they  possess  great  durability,  and  in  form  they  are 
extremely  well  shaped  and  finished  (see  Plate  XLVI). 

The  best  Amphlett  pots  owe  their  high  quality  to  the 
excellence  oi  their  material  as  well  as  their  workmanship. 
The  clay  for  them  has  to  be  imported  into  the  Islands  from 
Yayawana,  a  quarry  on  the  Northern  shore  of  Fergusson 
Island,  about  a  day's  journey  from  the  Amphletts.  Only  a 
very  inferior  clay  can  be  found  in  the  islands  of  Gumasila  and 
Nabwageta,  good  enough  to  make  small  pots,  but  quite  useless 
for  the  big  ones. 

There  is  a  legend,  explaining  why  the  good  clay  cannot  be 
obtained  nowadays  in  the  Amphletts.  In  olden  days,  two 
brothers,  Torosipupu  and  Tolikilaki,  lived  on  one  of  the 
summits  of  Gumasila  called  Tomonumonu.  There  was  plenty 
of  fine  clay  there  at  that  time.  One  day  Torosipupu  went  to 
fish  with  a  trap.  He  caught  a  very  fine  giant  clam-shell. 
When  he  came  back,  Tolikilaki  said  :  "  O  my  shell !  I  shall  eat 
it  !  "  Torosipupu  refused  it  and  answered  with  a  very  obscene 
allusion  to  the  bivalvular  mollusc  and  to  the  uses  he  was  going 
to  make  of  it.  Tolikilaki  asked  again  ;  Torosipupu  refused. 
They  quarrelled.  Tolikilaki  then  took  part  of  the  clay  with 
him,  and  went  to  Yayawana  on  the  main  island.  Torosipupu 
afterwards  took  the  rest  and  followed  him.  What  were  their 
further  destinies,  the  legend  does  not  say.  But  on  Gumasila 
there  remained  only  very  poor  clay,  which  is  all  that  can  be 
found  there  ever  since. 

Since  then,  the  men  have  to  go  about  twice  yearly  to 
Yayawana  in  order  to  bring  the  clay  from  which  the  women 
afterwards  will  manufacture  the  pots.  It  takes  them  aboiit  a 
day  to  reach  Yayawana,  to  which,  as  it  lies  to  the  South  West, 

*  This  is  the  information  which  I  obtained  during  my  short  visit  to  Murua 
(Woodlark  Island),  and  which  was  confirmed  by  the  Trobriand  islanders. 
Professor  Seligmann  states,  also,  that  the  sepulchral  pots,  found  in  this  island 
come  from  the  Amphletts.  Op,  cit.,  p.  731.  Compare  also  pp.  15  and  535. 


284  AMPH  LETTS—SOCIOLOGY 

they  can  travel  with  any  of  the  prevailing  winds  and  return 
equally  well.  They  remain  for  a  couple  of  days  there,  digging 
the  clay,  drying  it  and  filling  a  few  vataga  baskets  with  it. 
I  estimate  that  each  canoe  carries  about  two  ton  weight  on  its 
return  journey.  This  will  last  the  women  for  half  a  year's 
production.  The  pale,  straw-coloured  clay  is  kept  under  the 
houses  in  big  troughs  made  of  sides  of  discarded  canoes. 

In  olden  days,  before  the  white  man's  advent,  the  con- 
ditions were  a  little  more  complicated.  Only  one  island, 
Kwatouto,  being  on  friendly  terms  with  the  natives  had  the 
freedom  of  the  Northern  shore.  Whether  the  other  islands 
used  also  to  fetch  the  clay  from  there,  doing  so  armed  and 
ready  for  attack  ;  or  whether  they  used  to  acquire  the  clay  by 
barter  from  Kwatouto,  I  could  not  definitely  establish.  The 
information  one  receives  in  the  Amphletts  is  exceedingly 
unsatisfactory,  and  my  several  informants  gave  contradictory 
accounts  on  this  point.  The  fact  seems  clear,  in  my  case,  that 
Kwatouto,  then  as  now,  was  the  source  of  the  best  pottery,  but 
that  both  Gumasila  and  Nabwageta  also  always  manufactured 
pots,  though  perhaps  inferior  ones.  The  fourth  island, 
Domdom,  never  participated  in  this  trade,  and  up  to  the  present 
there  is  not  a  single  woman  in  Domdom  who  can  shape  a  pot. 

The  manufucturing  of  this  article,  as  said,  is  exclusively 
the  work  of  women.  They  sit  in  groups  of  two  or  three  under 
the  houses,  surrounded  by  big  clumps  of  clay  and  the  imple- 
ments of  their  craft,  and  produce  in  these  very  shabby  and 
mean  conditions,  veritable  masterpieces  of  their  art.  Person- 
ally I  had  only  the  opportunity  of  seeing  groups  of  very  old 
women  at  work,  although  I  spent  about  a  month  in  the 
Amphletts. 

With  regard  to  the  technology  of  pot-making,  the  method 
is  that  of  fiist  roughly  moulding  the  clay  into  its  form  and  then 
beating  with  a  spatula  and  subsequently  scraping  the  walls 
to  the  required  thinness  with  a  mussel-shell.  To  give  the 
description  in  detail,  a  woman  starts  first  by  kneading  a  certain 
amount  of  clay  for  a  long  time.  Of  this  material  she  makes 
two  semi-circular  clumps,  or  several  clumps,  if  a  big  pot  is  to 
be  made.  These  clumps  are  then  placed  m  a  ring,  touching  one 
another  upon  a  fiat  stone  or  board,  so  that  they  form  a  thick, 
circular  roll  (Plate  XLIV,  top).  The  woman  now  begins  to 
work  this  roll  with  both  hands,  gradually  pressing  it  together, 


PLATE  XLIV 


Top 


TECHNOLOGY  OF  POT  MAKING  (T) 
icture  :   the  clumps  of  clay  have  been  put  in  a  circle  and  joined  up,  forming  a  thick, 


op  pic 

ircular  roll      Bottom  picture  :   the  roll  is  being  worked  upwards,  caving  in  all  round.    (Sec 

Div.  III.) 


PLATE  XLV 


TECHNOLOGY  OF  POT  MAKING  (II) 

Top  picture  :  the  dome-shaped  mass  of  clay  is  worked  near  the  hole  in  the  top  ;  presently  the 

latter  will  be  closed,  and,  as  this  is  a  small  pot,  only  after  that  is  the  pot  beaten,  as  shown  in  the 

picture  below.    (See  Div.  III.) 


AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  285 

and  at  the  same  time  bringing  it  up  all  round  into  a  slanting  wall 
(see  Plate  XLIV,  bottom).  Her  left  hand  works  as  a  rule  on  the 
inside,  and  her  right  on  the  outside  of  this  wall ;  gradually 
it  begins  to  shape  into  a  semi-spherical  dome.  On  the  top  of 
the  dome  there  is  a  hole,  through  which  the  woman  thrusts 
her  left  hand,  working  with  it  on  the  inside,  of  the  dome  (see 
Plate  XLV,  top).  At  first  the  main  movements  of  her  hands 
were  from  downward  up,  flattening  out  the  rolls  into  thin  walls. 
The  traces  of  her  fingers  going  up  and  down  on  the  outside  leave 
longitudinal  furrows  (see  details  on  Plate  XLV,  top). 
Towards  the  end  of  this  stage  her  hands  move  round  and  round, 
leaving  concentric,  horizontal  marks  on  the  dome.  This  is 
continued  until  the  pot  has  assumed  a  good  curvature  all  round. 

It  seems  almost  a  miracle  to  see  how,  in  a  relatively  short 
time,  out  of  this  after  all  brittle  material,  and  with  no  imple- 
ments whatever,  a  woman  will  shape  a  practically  faultless 
hemisphere,  often  up  to  a  metre  in  diameter. 

After  the  required  shape  has  been  obtained  the  woman 
takes  a  small  spatula  of  light-wood  into  her  right  hand  and  she 
proceeds  to  tap  the  clay  gently  (see  Plate  XLV,  bottom).  This 
stage  lasts  a  fairly  long  time,  for  big  pots  about  an  hour.  After 
the  dome  has  been  sufficiently  worked  in  this  way  small 
pieces  of  clay  are  gradually  fitted  in  at  the  top,  closing  the 
orifice,  and  the  top  of  the  dome  is  beaten  again.  In  the  case 
of  small  pots  the  beating  is  done  only  after  the  orifice  has  been 
closed.  The  pot  is  put  with  the  mat  into  the  sun,  where  it 
remains  for  a  day  or  two  to  harden.  It  is  then  turned  round, 
so  that  its  mouth  is  now  uppermost,  and  its  bottom  is  carefully 
placed  into  a  basket.  Then,  round  the  rim  of  the  mouth,  a 
flat  strip  of  clay  is  placed  horizontally,  turned  towards  the 
inside,  forming  a  graceful  lip  Three  small  lumps  of  clay  are 
put  120°  distance  from  each  other  near  the  lip  as  ornaments, 
and,  with  a  pointed  stick,  a  design  is  scratched  in  round  the  lip 
and  sometimes  down  the  outside  of  the  body.  In  this  state 
the  pot  is  again  left  in  the  sun  for  some  length  of  time. 

After  it  has  sufficiently  hardened  to  be  handled  with  safety, 
though  it  must  be  done  with  the  utmost  care,  it  is  placed  on 
some  dried  sticks,  mouth  downwards,  supported  by  stones  put 
between  the  sticks.  It  is  surrounded  with  twigs  and  pieces  of 
wood  on  its  outside,  fire  is  kindled,  the  sticks  below  bake  it 
from  the  inside,  and  those  from  above  on  the  outside.  The 


286  AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY 

final  result  is  a  beautiful  pot,  of  a  brick  red  colour  when  new, 
though  after  several  uses  it  becomes  completely  black.  Its 
shape  is  not  quite  semi-spherical ;  it  is  rather  half  an  elipsoid, 
like  the  broader  half  of  an  egg,  cut  off  in  the  middle.  The 
whole  gives  the  feeling  of  perfection  in  form  and  of  elegance, 
unparalleled  in  any  South  Sea  pottery,  I  know  (see  Plate  XL VI) 

These  pots  in  Kiriwinian  language  kuria,  are  called^by  the 
Amphlett  natives  kuyana  or  va'ega.  The  biggest  specimens  are 
about  a  metre  across  their  mouth,  and  some  sixty  centimetres 
deep  ;  they  are  used  exclusively  for  the  ceremonial  cooking  of 
mona  (see  Plate  XXXV),  and  are  called  kwoylamona  (in  the 
Amphletts  :  nokunu).  The  second  size  kwoylakalagila  (in  the 
Amphletts,  nopa'eva)  are  used  for  ordinary  boiling  of  yams  or 
taro.  Kwoylugwawaga  (Amphletts,  nobadala),  are  used  for  the 
same  purposes  but  are  much  smaller.  An  especial  size, 
kwoylamegwa  (Amphletts,  nosipoma)  are  used  in  sorcery.  The 
smallest  ones,  which  I  do  not  remember  ever  having  seen  in 
the  Trobriands  though  there  is  a  Trobriand  word  for  them, 
kwoylakekita,  are  used  for  everyday  cooking  in  the  Amphletts 
where  they  are  called  va'ega,  in  the  narrower  sense  of  the 
word. 

I  have  expatiated  on  this  singular  and  artistic  achievement 
of  the  natives  of  the  Amphletts,  because  from  all  points  of 
view  it  is  important  to  know  the  details  of  a  craft  so  far  in 
advance  of  any  similar  achievement  within  the  Melanesian 
region 

A  few  words  must  now  be  said  about  trade  in  the  Amphletts. 
The  central  position  of  this  little  archipelago  situated  between, 
on  one  side,  the  big,  flat,  extremely  fertile  coral  islands,  which, 
however,  are  deprived  of  many  indispensable,  natural 
resources  ;  and  on  the  other,  the  rich  jungle  and  varied  mineral 
supplies  of  the  volcanic  regions  in  the  d'Entrecasteaux  archi- 
pelago, indicates  on  which  lines  this  trade  would  be  likely  to 
develop.  To  this  natural  inequality  between  them  and  their 
neighbours  are  added  social  elements.  The  Trobrianders  are 
skilful,  industrious,  and  economically  highly  organised.  In  this 
respect,  even  the  Dobuans  stand  on  a  lower  level,  and  the  other 
inhabitants  of  the  d'Entrecasteaux  much  more  so. 

If  we  imagine  a  commercial  diagram  drawn  on  the  map,  we 
would  first  of  all  notice  the  export  in  pottery,  radiating  from 
the  Amphletts  as  its  source.  In  the  inverse  direction,  flowing 


AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  287 

towards  them,  would  be  imports  in  food  such  as  sago,  pigs, 
coco-nut,  betel-nut,  taro  and  yams.  An  article  very  important 
in  olden  days,  which  had  to  be  imported  into  the  Amphletts, 
was  the  stone  for  implements  coming  via  the  Trobriands  from 
Woodlark  Island.  These  indeed  would  be  traded  on  by  the 
Amphlettans,  as  all  the  d'Entrecasteaux  relied,  for  the  most 
part  at  least,  on  the  imports  from  Woodlark,  according  to 
information  I  obtained  in  the  Amphletts.  The  Amphlett 
islands  further  depended  on  the  Trobriands  for  the  following 
articles  :  wooden  dishes,  manufactured  in  Bwoytalu  ;  lime-pots 
manufactured  in  several  villages  of  Kuboma  ;  three-tiered 
baskets  and  folding  baskets,  made  in  Luya ;  ebony  lime 
pots  and  mussel  shells,  these  latter  fished  mainly  by  the  village 
of  Kavataria  in  the  lagoon.  These  articles  were  paid  for,  or 
matched  as  presents  by  the  following  ones  :  first  of  all,  of  course 
the  pots  ;  secondly,  turtle-shell  earrings,  special  nose  sticks, 
red  ochre,  pummice  stone  and  obsidian,  all  of  these  obtainable 
locally.  Further,  the  natives  of  the  Amphletts  procured  on 
Fergusson  Island,  for  the  Trobrianders,  wild  banana  seeds  used 
for  necklaces,  strips  of  rattan  used  as  belts  and  for  lashing, 
feathers  of  the  cassowary  and  red  parrot,  used  for  dancing 
decorations,  plaited  fibre-belts,  bamboo  and  barbed  spears. 

It  may  be  added  that  in  olden  days,  the  natives  in  the 
Amphletts  would  not  sail  freely  to  all  the  places  on  the  main 
island.  Each  Amphlett  village  community  had  a  district  on 
the  mainland,  with  which  they  were  on  friendly  terms  and  with 
which  they  could  trade  without  incurring  any  danger.  Thus, 
as  said  above,  only  the  village  of  Kwatouto,  in  the  southern- 
most inhabited  Amphlett  island,  was  free  to  go  unmolested  to 
the  district  round  Yayawana,  from  whence  they  obtained 
the  pale  yellow  clay,  so  excellent  for  pottery.  The  natives  of 
Nabwageta  had  a  few  villages  eastwards  from  Yayawana  to 
deal  with,  and  those  of  Gumasiia  went  further  East  still. 
Domdom  natives  were  never  great  traders  or  sailors.  The 
trading  conditions  in  the  islands  were  further  complicated  by 
the  constant  internal  quarrels  and  warfare  between  the 
districts.  Kwatouto  and  Domdom  on  the  one  side,  Gumasiia 
and  Nabwageta  on  the  other  were  allies,  and  between  these 
two  factions  there  was  a  constant,  smouldering  hostility, 
preventing  any  development  of  friendly  commercial  intercourse, 
and  breaking  out  now  and  then  into  open  warfare.  This  was 


288  AMPHLETTS--SOCIOLOGY 

the  reason  why  the  villages  were  all  perched  on  high,  inacces- 
sible ledges,  or  like  Gumasila,  were  built  so  as  to  be  protected 
by  the  sea  and  reefs  from  attack. 

The  influence  of  the  surrounding  great  districts,  that  is, 
of  the  Trobriands  and  of  Dobu  upon  the  Amphletts  neither  was 
nor  is  merely  commercial.  From  the  limited  linguistic 
material  collected  in  the  Amphletts,  I  can  only  say  th^t  their 
language  is  related  both  to  that  of  the  Trobriands  and  of  Dobu. 
Their  social  organisation  resembles  closely  that  of  the  Trobri- 
anders  with  the  exception  of  chieftainship,  which  is  lacking  in 
the  Amphletts.  In  their  beliefs  as  to  sorcery,  spirits,  etc., 
they  seem  to  be  more  akin  to  the  Dobuans  than  to  the  Trobri- 
anders.  Their  canoe  magic  has  come  form  the  Trobriands, 
but  the  art  of  building  their  canoes  is  that  of  Dobu,  which  as 
we  have  seen  before  is  also  the  one  adopted  by  the  Trobnanders. 
The  magic  of  the  Kula,  known  in  the  Amphletts,  is  partly 
adopted  from  the  Trobriands,  and  partly  from  Dobu.  There 
is  only  one  indigenous  system  of  magic  which  originated  in  the 
islands.  Long  ago  there  lived  a  man  of  the  Malasi  clan,  who 
had  his  abode  in  the  rock  of  Selawaya,  which  stands  out  of  the 
jungle,  above  the  big  village  of  Gumasila.  This  man  knew  the 
magic  of  ayowa,  which  is  the  name  given  to  mwasila  (Kula 
magic)  in  the  language  of  the  Amphletts  and  of  Dobu.  Some 
people  passed  near  the  stone  while  it  was  being  recited  within 
it  ;  they  learned  it,  and  handed  it  over  to  their  descendants. 

IV 

One  more  point  of  importance  must  be  mentioned  here,  a 
point  bearing  upon  the  intertribal  relations  in  this  district.  As 
we  saw,  some  Trobriand  people  remain  sometimes  on  prolonged 
visits  in  the  Amphletts.  This  custom,  however,  is  never 
reciprocated,  and  people  from  the  Amphletts  never  visit  for 
any  length  of  time  their  Northern  neighbours.  The  same 
refers  to  the  relations  between  the  Trobriands  and  the  district 
of  Dobu.  In  discussing  the  lists  of  Kula  partners  of  Kouta'uya 
and  Toybayoba,  I  was  told  about  some  of  their  Southern 
partners,  that  they  were  veyola  (maternal  kinsmen)  of  my 
informant.  On  further  inquiry  it  appeared  that  these  people 
were  emigrants  from  the  Trobriands,  who  settled  down  in 
Tewara,  Sanaroa  or  the  big  Dobuan  settlements  on  the  North- 
West  shores  of  Dawson  Straits. 


1 

i 


I 


AMPHLETTS— SOCIOLOGY  289 

When  I  asked  whether,  on  the  contrary,  there  were  any  cases 
of  Dobuans  settling  in  Boyowa,  it  was  emphatically  denied  that 
such  a  thing  could  happen.  And  indeed,  in  the  numerous 
genealogical  data  which  I  have  collected  from  all  over  the 
district,  there  is  no  trace  of  migration  from  the  South,  although 
frequent  migrations  occur  within  the  district  and  some  from 
the  Marshall  Bennett  Islands.  In  general,  all  these  migrations 
within  the  Trobriands  show  also  a  marked  tendency  to  move 
form  North  to  South.  Thus,  the  most  aristocratic  sub-clan, 
the  Tabalu,  originated  in  the  Northernmost  village  of  Laba'i. 
But  now  their  stronghold  is  further  South  in  Omarakana,  and 
the  members  of  the  same  sub-clan  are  ruling  in  Olivilevi,  and 
Tukwa'ukwa,  that  is  in  the  middle  of  the  island.  Some  of 
them  even  migrated  as  far  South  as  Vakuta,  where  they 
established  a  feeble  imitation  of  chieftainship,  never  being  able 
to  subdue  the  other  natives  to  any  extent.  Several  sub-clans, 
now  firmly  established  in  the  Middle  and  Southern  portions  of 
the  island,  trace  their  descent  from  the  North,  and  in  the 
Amphletts  there  are  also  a  couple  of  cases  of  sub-clans  immi- 
grated from  Boyowa. 

In  contrast  to  this  migration  of  people  from  North  to 
South,  we  have  noted  the  spread  of  one  of  the  main  cultural 
elements,  of  the  canoe,  from  South  to  North.  We  saw  how  the 
nagega,  the  big,  sea-worthy,  but  heavy  and  slow  canoe  has  been 
superseded  by  the  masawa  or  tadobu,  which  spread  a  few  genera- 
tions ago,  till  it  arrived  at  the  island  of  Kitava.  It  is  more 
difficult  to  follow  the  movements  of  beliefs  But  I  have  reason 
to  assume  that  beliefs  in  sorcery,  more  especially  in  the 
mulukwausi  and  tauva'u,  move  from  South  to  North. 

In  the  next  Chapter,  we  shall  return  to  our  Sinaketan 
expedition,  in  order  to  move  them  for  a  short  distance  along 
their  route  into  the  first  settlements  of  the  Dobu  speaking 
people  These  places  will  suggest  a  new  theme  for  a  lengthy 
digression,  this  time  into  the  mythological  subjects  and  legends 
connected  with  the  Kula. 


CHAPTER  XII 

IN  TEWARA  AND  SANAROA— MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE 

KULA 

I 

AT  daybreak  the  party  leave  the  Amphletts.  This  is  the 
stage  when  the  parting  gifts,  the  talo'i  are  given.  The  clay  pots, 
the  several  kinds  of  produce  of  the  islands  and  of  the  Koya, 
which  had  been  laid  aside  the  previous  day,  are  now  brought 
to  the  canoes  (see  Plate  XLVII).  Neither  the  giver  nor  the 
main  receiver,  the  toliwaga,  take  much  notice  of  the  pro- 
ceedings, great  nonchalance  about  give  and  take  being  the 
correct  attitude  prescribed  by  good  manners.  Children  bring 
the  objects,  and  the  junior  members  of  the  crew  stow 
them  away.  The  general  behaviour  of  the  crowds,  ashore 
and  in  the  canoes,  is  as  unostentatious  at  this  moment  of 
parting  as  it  was  at  the  arrival.  No  more  farewells  than 
greetings  are  spoken  or  shouted,  nor  are  there  any  visible  or 
formal  signs  of  grief,  or  of  hope  of  meeting  again,  or  of  any  other 
emotions.  The  busy,  self-absorbed  crews  push  off  stolidly,  step 
the  mast,  set  sail,  and  glide  away. 

They  now  approach  the  broad  front  of  Koyatabu,  which 
with  a  favourable  wind,  they  might  reach  within  two  hours 
or  so.  They  probably  sail  near  enough  to  get  a  clear  view  of  the 
big  trees  standing  on  the  edge  of  the  jungle,  and  of  the  long 
waterfall  dividing  the  mountain's  flank  right  down  the  middle  ; 
of  the  triangular  patches  under  cultivation,  covered  with  the 
vine  of  yams  and  big  leaves  of  taro.  They  could  also  perceive 
here  and  there  smoke  curling  out  of  the  jungle  where, 
hidden  under  the  trees,  there  lies  a  village,  composed  of  a  few 
miserable  huts.  Nowadays  these  villages  have  come  down  to 
the  water's  edge,  in  order  to  supplement  their  garden  yield  with 
fish.  In  olden  days  they  were  all  high  up  on  the  slope,  and 
their  huts  hardly  ever  visible  from  the  sea. 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  291 

The  inhabitants  of  these  small  and  ramshackle  villages  are 
shy  and  timid,  though  in  olden  days  they  would  have  been 
dangerous  to  the  Trobrianders.  They  speak  a  language  which 
differs  from  that  of  Dobu  and  is  usually  called  by  the  natives 
'  the  Basima  talk.'  There  seem  to  be  about  four  or  five  various 
languages  on  the  island  of  Fergusson,  besides  that  of  Dobu. 
My  acquaintance  with  the  Basima  natives  is  very  small,  due 
only  to  two  forced  landings  in  their  district.  They  struck 
me  as  being  physically  of  a  different  type  from  the  Dobuans, 
though  this  is  only  an  impression.  They  have  got  no  boats,  and 
do  the  little  sailing  they  require  on  small  rafts  of  three  or  five 
logs  tied  together.  Their  houses  are  smaller  and  less  well- 
made  than  those  in  Dobu.  Further  investigation  of  these 
natives  would  be  very  interesting,  and  probably  also  very 
difficult,  as  is  always  the  case  when  studying  very  small  com- 
munities, living  at  the  same  time  right  out  of  touch  with  any 
white  man. 

This  land  must  remain,  for  the  present  anyhow,  veiled  for 
ourselves,  as  it  also  is  for  the  Trobriand  natives.  For  these, 
indeed,  the  few  attempts  which  they  occasionally  made  to 
come  into  contact  with  these  natives,  and  the  few  mishaps 
which  brought  them  to  their  shores,  were  all  far  from  encourag- 
ing in  results,  and  only  strengthened  the  traditional  super- 
stitious fear  of  them.  Several  generations  ago,  a  canoe  or  two 
from  Burakwa,  in  the  island  of  Kayeula,  made  an  exploring  trip 
to  the  district  of  Gabu,  lying  in  a  wide  bay  under  the  North- 
West  flank  of  Koyatabu.  The  natives  of  Gabu,  receiving  them 
at  first  with  a  show  of  interest,  and  pretending  to  enter  into 
commercial  relations,  afterwards  fell  on  them  treacherously  and 
slew  the  chief  Toraya  and  all  his  companions.  This  story  has 
become  famous,  and  indeed  one  of  the  outstanding  historical 
events  of  the  Trobriands,  because  Tomakam,  the  slain  chief's 
younger  brother,  went  to  the  Koya  of  Gabu,  and  killed  the  head 
man  of  one  of  the  villages,  avenging  thus  his  brother's  death. 
He  then  composed  a  song  and  a  dance  which  is  performed  to 
this  day  in  Kiriwina,  and  has  indeed  one  of  the  finest  melodies 
in  the  islands. 

This  is  the  verbatim  account  of  the  story  as  it  was  told  to 
me  by  To'uluwa  himself,  the  chief  of  Omarakana,  who  at 
present  '  owns  '  this  Gumagabu  dance,  his  ancestors  having 
acquired  it  from  the  descendants  of  Tomakam  by  a  laga 


292  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

payment.*  It  is  a  commentary  to  the  song,  and  begins  only  with 
the  avenging  expedition  of  Tomakam,  which  is  also  the  theme 
of  the  song. 

THE  STORY  OF  GUMAGABU 

"  Tomakam  got  a  new  waga.  He  blew  the  conch  shell 
and  went  to  the  Koya.  He  spoke  to  his  mother  "  (that 
is,  before  leaving),  "  '  My  mother,  you  remain,  I  shall 
sail.  One  conch  shell  you  hear,  it  will  be  a  conch  shell  of  a 
necklace/  "  (That  is,  it  will  be  a  sign  that  he  has  been 
successful  in  getting  a  good  Kula  necklace).  "  '  The 
second  conch  shell  will  be  the  conch  shell  of  the  dead  man ; 
the  sign  that  I  have  already  carried  out  my  revenge.  I 
shall  sail,  I  shall  anchor,  I  shall  sleep.  The  second  day  I 
shall  sail,  I  shall  anchor,  I  shall  sleep.  The  third  day  I 
shall  anchor  in  a  village,  having  already  arrived  in  the 
Mountain.  The  fourth  day  I  shall  give  pari,  the  Kinana 
(the  Southern  foreigner)  will  come,  I  shall  hit  him.  The 
fifth  day  I  shall  return.  I  shall  sail  fast,  till  night  grows 
on  the  sea.  The  next  day  I  shall  anchor  at  Burakwa. 
You  hear  the  conch  shell,  you  sleep  in  the  house,  arise. 
One  blow  you  hear  of  the  shell — the  blow  of  the  bagi 
(necklace).  Two  blows  you  hear,  the  blow  of  the  dead 
man  !  Then  the  men  of  Burakwa  will  say  :  '  Two  conch 
shells,  two  necklaces/  then,  you  come  out  of  the  house, 
you  speak  :  '  Men  of  Burakwa,  from  one  side  of  the  village 
and  from  the  other  ;  indeed  you  mocked  my  son, 
Tomakam.  Your  speech  was — go,  carry  out  thy 
vendetta  in  Gabu.  The  first  conch  shell  is  that  of  the 
necklace,  the  second  conch  shell  is  that  of  the  dead  man. 
I  have  spoken ! '  "  (Here  ends  the  speech  of  Tomakam  to 
his  mother.) 

"  He  anchored  in  the  village  in  the  Koya.  He  told 
his  younger  brother  :  '  Go,  tell  the  Kinana  men  these 
words  :  Your  friend  has  a  sore  leg,  well,  if  we  together  go 
to  the  canoe  he  will  give  the  part  I  '  The  younger  brother 
went  and  spoke  those  words  to  the  head-man  of  the 
Kinana  :  '  Some  green  coco-nuts,  some  betel-nut,  some 
pig,  bring  this  to  us  and  we  shall  give  you  pari.  Your 
arm-shells,  your  big  stone  blade,  your  boar's  tusk,  your 
whale-bone  spatula  await  you  in  the  canoe.  The  message 
for  you  is  that  your  friend  has  a  sore  leg  and  cannot  walk/ 
Says  the  Kinana  man  :  '  Well,  let  us  go  !  '  " 

"  He  caught  a  pig,  he  collected  betel-nut,  sugar  cane, 
bananas,  necklaces,  betel-pod,  he  said  :  '  Well,  let  us  go 

*  See  Chapter  VI,  Division  VI. 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  293 

together  to  the  canoe/  Pu'u  he  gives  the  necklace  ;  pu'u, 
the  pig;  then  he  gave  the  coco-nut,  the  betel-nut,  the  sugar 
cane,  the  bananas.  Tomakam  lay  on  one  side  ;  his  leg 
he  wrapped  up  in  a  white,  soft  pandanus  mat.  Before  he 
had  spoken  to  his  younger  brother  "  :  (i.e.,  he  gave  him  this 
instruction  also,  when  he  sent  him  to  meet  the  people  of 
Gabu)  :  "  '  You  all  come  with  the  Kinana  man.  Do  not 
remain  in  the  village/  Then  "  (after  the  first  gifts  were 
exchanged)  "  the  Kinana  man  stood  up  in  the  canoe.  His 
betel-pod  fell  down.  Spoke  Tomakam,  addressing  the 
Kinana  man  :  '  My  friend,  pick  up  the  betel-pod.  It 
fell  and  went  down  into  the  canoe/  The  Kinana  man 
bent  down,  he  took  the  betel-pod.  Tomakam  saw  that  the 
Kinana  bent  down,  he  took  an  axe,  and  sitting  he  made 
a  stroke  at  him.  He  cut  off  his  neck.  Then  Tomakam 
took  the  head,  threw  the  body  into  the  sea.  The  head  he 
stuck  on  a  stick  of  his  canoe.  They  sailed,  they  arrived  in 
their  village.  He  caught  a  pig,  prepared  a  taro  pudding, 
cut  sugar  cane,  they  had  a  big  feast,  he  invented  this 
song." 

Such  was  the  story  told  me  by  the  chief  of  Omarakana  about 
the  song  and  dance  of  Gumagabu,  which  at  that  time  they  were 
singing  and  performing  in  his  village.  I  have  adduced  it  in 
full,  in  an  almost  literal  translation  from  the  native  text,  in  order 
to  show  it  side  by  side  with  the  song.  The  narrative  thus 
reproduced  shows  characteristic  gaps,  and  it  does  not  cover 
even  the  incidents  of  the  song. 

The  following  is  a  free  translation  of  the  song,  which,  in  its 
original  native  text,  is  very  condensed  and  impressionistic. 
A  word  or  two  indicates  rather  than  describes  whole  scenes  and 
incidents,  and  the  traditional  commentary,  handed  on  in  a 
native  community  side  by  side  with  the  song,  is  necessary  for  a 
full  understanding. 

THE  GUMAGABU  SONG 

I 
The  stranger  of  Gumagabu    sits   on    the    top  of  the 

mountain. 

'  Go  on  top  of  the  mountain,  the  towering  mountain.  .  .  / 
They  cry  for  Toraya 

The  stranger  of  Gumagabu  sits  on  the  slope  of  the 

mountain. 
-The  fringe  of  small  clouds  lifts  above  Boyowa  ; 


The  mother  cries  for  Toraya- 


294  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

'  I  shall  take  my  revenge.' 
The  mother  cries  for  Toraya. 

II 

Our  mother,  Dibwaruna,  dreams  on  the  mat. 
She  dreams  about  the  killing. 
'  Revenge  the  wailing  ; 
Anchor  ;    hit  the  Gabu  strangers  !  ' 

The  stranger  comes  out ; 

The  chief  gives  him  the  pari ; 

1  I  shall  give  you  the  doga  ; 

Bring  me  things  from  the  mountain  to  the  canoe !  ' 

III 

We  exchange  our  vaygu'a  ; 

The  rumour  of  my  arrival  spreads  through  the  Koya 
We  talk  and  talk. 
He  bends  and  is  killed. 
His  companions  run  away  ; 
His  body  is  thrown  into  the  sea  ; 
The  companions  of  the  Kinana  run  away, 
We  sail  home. 

IV 

Next  day,  the  sea  foams  up, 
The  chief's  canoe  stops  on  the  reef ; 
The  storm  approaches  ; 
The  chief  is  afraid  of  drowning. 
The  conch  shell  is  blown  : 
It  sounds  in  the  mountain. 
They  all  weep  on  the  reef. 

V 

They  paddle  in  the  chief's  canoe  ; 
They  circle  round  the  point  of  Bewara. 
'  I  have  hung  my  basket. 
I  have  met  him.' 
So  cries  the  chief, 
So  cries  repeatedly  the  chief. 

VI 

Women  in  festive  decoration 
Walk  on  the  beach. 
Nawaruva  puts  on  her  turtle  rings  ; 
She  puts  on  her  lulugau  skirt. 
In  the  village  of  my  fathers,  in  Burakwa 
There  is  plenty  of  food  ; 
Plenty  is  brought  in  for  distribution. 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  295 

The  character  of  this  song  is  extremely  elliptic,  one  might 
even  say  futuristic,  since  several  scenes  are  crowded  simul- 
taneously into  the  picture.  In  the  first  strophe  we  see  the 
Kinana,  by  which  word  all  the  tribesmen  from  the  d'Entrecas- 
teaux  Archipelago  are  designated  in  Boyowa,  on  the  top  of  his 
Mountain  in  Gabu.  Immediately  afterwards,  we  are  informed 
of  the  intentions  of  Tomakam  to  ascend  the  mountain,  while 
the  women  cry  for  Toraya,  for  the  slain  chief — probably  his 
kinswomen  and  widows.  The  next  picture  again  spans  over 
the  wide  seas,  and  on  the  one  shore  we  see  the  Gabuan  sitting  on 
the  slopes  of  his  hill  and  far  away  on  the  other,  under  the 
fringe  of  small  clouds  lifting  above  Boyowa,  the  mother  cries 
for  her  son,  the  murdered  chief.  Tomakam  takes  a  resolve, 
'  I  shall  take  my  revenge/  hearing  her  cry. 

In  the  second  strophe,  the  mother  dreams  about  the 
expedition  ;  the  words  about  revenge  to  be  taken  on  the  Gabu 
men  and  the  directions  to  anchor  and  hit  him  are  probably 
taken  from  her  dream.  Then  suddenly  we  are  transported 
right  across  to  the  mountain,  the  expedition  having  arrived 
there  already.  The  strangers,  the  Kinana  are  coming  down  to 
the  canoe,  and  we  assist  at  the  words  spoken  between  them 
and  the  people  of  Buakwa. 

Then  in  the  third  strophe,  we  arrive  at  the  culminating 
scene  of  the  drama  ;  even  here,  however,  the  hero,  who  is  also 
his  own  bard,  could  not  help  introducing  a  few  boastful  words 
about  his  renown  resounding  in  the  Koya.  In  a  few  words  the 
tragedy  is  described  :  the  Kinana  bends  down,  is  killed,  and 
his  body  is  thrown  into  the  water.  About  his  head  -we  hear 
nothing  in  this  verse. 

In  the  next  one,  a  storm  overtakes  the  returning  party. 
Signals  of  distress  are  re-echoed  by  the  mountain,  and  like 
Homeric  heroes,  our  party  are  not  ashamed  to  weep  in  fear  and 
anguish.  Somehow  they  escape,  however,  and  in  the  next 
verse,  they  are  already  near  their  village  and  Tomakam,  their 
leader,  bursts  into  a  paean  of  triumph.  It  is  not  quite  clear 
what  the  allusion  to  the  basket  means,  whether  he  keeps  there 
his  Kula  trophies  or  the  slain  enemy's  head  ;  this  latter,  in 
contradiction  to  what  we  heard  in  the  prose  story  of  its  being 
impaled.  The  song  ends  with  a  description  of  a  feast.  The 
woman  mentioned  there  is  Tomakam's  daughter,  who  puts  on 
festive  attire  in  order  to  welcome  her  father. 


296  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

Comparing  now  the  song  with  the  story,  we  see  that  they 
do  not  quite  tally.  In  the  story,  there  is  the  dramatic  interest 
of  the  mother's  intervention.  We  gather  from  it  that 
Tomakam,  goaded  by  the  aspersions  of  his  fellow-villagers, 
wishes  to  make  his  return  as  effective  as  possible.  He  arranges 
the  signals  of  the  two  conch  shell  blasts  with  his  mother,  and 
asks  her  to  harangue  the  people  at  the  moment  of  his  reinirn. 
All  this  finds  no  expression  in  the  song.  The  ruse  of  the  chief's 
sore  leg  is  also  omitted  from  there,  which,  however,  does  not 
mean  that  the  hero  was  ashamed  of  it.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  storm  described  in  the  song  is  omitted  from  the  story,  and 
there  is  a  discrepancy  about  the  head  of  the  Gabu  man,  and 
we  do  not  know  whether  it  really  is  conveyed  in  a  basket  as  the 
song  has  it  or  impaled,  as  the  story  relates  ! 

I  have  adduced  in  detail  the  story  and  the  song,  because 
they  are  a  good  illustration  of  the  native's  attitude  towards 
the  dangers,  and  towards  the  heroic  romance  of  the  Koya. 
They  are  also  interesting  as  documents,  showing  which  salient 
points  would  strike  the  natives'  imagination  in  such  a  dramatic 
occurrence.  Both  in  the  story  and  in  the  song,  we  find  empha- 
sised the  motives  of  social  duty,  of  satisfied  self-regard  and 
ambition  ;  again,  the  dangers  on  the  reef,  the  subterfuge  in 
killing,  finally  the  festivities  on  return  home.  Much  that 
would  interest  us  in  the  whole  story  is  omitted,  as  anyone  can 
see  for  himself. 

Other  stories,  though  not  made  illustrious  through  being  set 
into  a  song,  are  told  about  the  Koya.  I  met  myself  an  old  man 
in  the  island  of  Vakuta,  who,  as  a  boy,  had  been  captured 
with  a  whole  partv  by  a  village  community  of  Dobu-speaking 
people  on  Normanby  Island.  The  men  and  another  small  boy 
of  the  party  were  killed  and  eaten,  but  some  women  took  pity 
on  him,  and  he  was  spared,  to  be  brought  up  amongst  them. 
There  is  another  man,  either  alive  or ,  recently  dead  in 
Kavataria,  who  had  a  similar  experience  in  Fergusson  Island. 
Another  man  called  Kaypoyla,  from  the  small  island  of  Kuyawa 
in  the  Western  Trobriands,  was  stranded  with  his  crew  some- 
where in  the  West  of  Fergusson  Island,  but  not  in  the  district 
where  they  used  to  trade.  His  companions  were  killed  and  eaten. 
He  was  taken  alive  and  kept  to  fatten  for  a  proximate  feast. 
His  host,  or  rather  the  host  of  the  feast  in  which  he  was  going 
to  furnish  the  piece  de  resistence,  was  away  inland,  to  invite  the 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KUI  A  297 

guests,  while  the  host's  wife  went  for  a  moment  behind  the 
house,  sweeping  the  ground.  Kaypoyla  jumped  up  and  ran  to 
the  shore.  Being  chased  by  some  other  men  from  the  settle- 
ment, he  concealed  himself  in  the  branches  of  a  big  tree  standing 
on  the  beach,  and  was  not  found  by  his  pursuers.  At  night  he 
came  down,  took  a  canoe  or  a  raft,  and  paddled  along  the  coast. 
He  used  to  sleep  on  shore  during  the  night,  and  paddle  on  in 
day  time.  One  night  he  slept  among  some  sago-palms,  and, 
awakening  in  the  morning,  found  himself,  to  his  terror,  sur- 
rounded by  Kinana  men.  What  was  his  joyful  surprise  after 
all,  when  he  recognised  among  them  his  friend  and  Kula 
partner,  with  whom  he  always  used  to  trade  !  After  some  time, 
he  was  sent  back  home  in  his  partner's  canoe. 

Many  such  stories  have  a  wide  currency,  and  they  supply 
one  of  the  heroic  elements  in  tribal  life,  an  element  which  now, 
with  the  establishment  of  white  man's  influence,  has  vanished. 
Yet  even  now  the  gloomy  shores  which  our  party  are  leaving  to 
the  right,  the  tall  jungle,  the  deep  valleys,  the  hill-tops  darkened 
with  trailing  clouds,  all  this  is  a  dim  mysterious  background, 
adding  to  the  awe  and  solemnity  of  the  Kula,  though  not 
entering  into  it.  The  sphere  of  activities  of  our  traders  lies  at 
the  foot  of  the  high  mountains,  there,  where  a  chain  of  rocks 
and  islands  lies  scattered  along  the  coast.  Some  of  them  are 
passed  immediately  after  leaving  Gumasila.  Then,  after  a  good 
distance,  a  small  rock,  called  Gurewaya,  is  met,  remarkable  for 
the  taboos  associated  with  it.  Close  behind  it,  two  islands, 
Tewara  and  Uwama,  are  separated  by  a  narrow  passage,  the 
mythical  straits  of  Kadimwatu.  There*  is  a  village  on  the 
first-mentioned,  and  the  natives  of  this  make  gardens  on  both 
islands.  The  village  is  not  very  big  ;  it  may  have  some  sixty  to 
eighty  inhabitants,  as  it  can  man  three  canoes  for  the  Kula.  It 
has  no  commercial  or  industrial  importance,  but  is  notable 
because  of  its  mythological  associations.  This  island  is  the 
home  of  the  mythological  hero,  Kasabwaybwayreta,  whose 
story  is  one  of  the  most  important  legends  of  the  Kula.  Here 
indeed,  in  Tewara,  we  are  right  within  the  mythological  heart 
of  the  Kula.  In  fact,  we  entered  its  legendary  area  with  the 
moment  the  Sinaketan  fleet  sailed  out  of  the  Lagoon  into  the 
deep  waters  of  Pilolu. 


298  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

II 

Once  more  we  must  pause,  this  time  in  an  attempt  to  grasp 
the  natives'  mental  attitude  towards  the  mythological  aspect 
of  the  Kula.  Right  through  this  account  it  has  been  our 
constant  endeavour  to  realise  the  vision  of  the  world,  as  it  is 
reflected  in  the  minds  of  the  natives.  The  frequent  references 
to  the  scenery  have  not  been  given  only  to  enliven  the  narrative, 
or  even  to  enable  the  reader  to  visualise  the  setting  of  the  native 
customs,  I  have  attempted  to  show  how  the  scene  of  his 
actions  appears  actually  to  the  native,  to  describe  his  impres- 
sions and  feelings  with  regard  to  it,  as  I  was  able  to  read  them 
in  his  folk-lore,  in  his  conversations  at  home,  and  in  his 
behaviour  when  passing  through  this  scenery  itself. 

Here  we  must  try  to  reconstruct  the  influence  of  myth  upon 
this  vast  landscape,  as  it  colours  it,  gives  it  meaning,  and 
transforms  it  into  something  live  and  familiar.  What  was  a 
mere  rock,  now  becomes  a  personality  ;  what  was  a  speck  on 
the  horizon  becomes  a  beacon,  hallowed  by  romantic  associa- 
tions with  heroes  ;  a  meaningless  configuration  of  landscape 
acquires  a  significance,  obscure  no  doubt,  but  full  of  intense 
emotion.  Sailing  with  natives,  especially  with  novices  to  the 
Kula,  I  often  observed  how  deep  was  their  interest  in  sections 
of  landscape  impregnated  with  legendary  meaning,  how  the 
elder  ones  would  point  and  explain,  the  younger  would  gaze  and 
wonder,  while  the  talk  was  full  of  mythological  names.  It  is 
the  addition  of  the  human  interest  to  the  natural  features, 
possessing  in  themselves  less  power  of  appealing  to  a  native 
man  than  to  us,  which  makes  the  difference  for  him  in  looking  at 
the  scenery.  A  stone  hurled  by  one  of  the  heroes  into  the  sea 
after  an  escaping  canoe  ;  a  sea  passage  broken  between  two 
islands  by  a  magical  canoe  ;  here  two  people  turned  into  rock  ; 
there  a  petrified  waga — all  this  makes  the  landscape  represent  a 
continuous  story  or  else  the  culminating  dramatic  incident 
of  a  familiar  legend.  This  power  of  transforming  the  land- 
scape, the  visible  environment,  is  one  only  of  the  many  influ- 
ences which  myth  exercises  upon  the  general  outlook  of  the 
natives.  Although  here  we  are  studying  myth  only  in  its  con- 
nection with  the  Kula,  even  within  these  narrow  limits  some  of 
its  broader  connections  will  be  apparent,  notably  its  influence 
upon  sociology,  magic  and  ceremonial. 

The  question  which  presents  itself  first,  in  trying  to  grasp 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  299 

the  native  outlook  on  the  subject  is  :  what  is  myth  to  the 
natives  ?  How  do  they  conceive  and  define  it  ?  Have  they 
any  line  of  demarcation  between  the  mythical  and  the  actual 
reality,  and  if  so,  how  do  they  draw  this  line  ? 

Their  folk-lore,  that  is,  the  verbal  tradition,  the  store  of  tales, 
legends,  and  texts  handed  on  by  previous  generations,  is  com- 
posed of  the  following  classes  ;  first  of  all,  there  is  what 
the  natives  call  libogwo,  '  old  talk/  but  which  we  would  call 
tradition  ;  secondly,  kukwanebu,  fairy  tales,  recited  for  amuse- 
ment, at  definite  seasons,  and  relating  avowedly  untrue  events  ; 
thirdly,  wosi,  the  various  songs,  and  vinavina,  ditties,  chanted  at 
play  or  under  other  special  circumstances  ;  and  last,  not  least, 
megwa  or  yopa,  the  magical  spells.  All  these  classes  are  strictly 
distinguished  from  one  another  by  name,  function,  social 
setting,  and  by  certain  formal  characteristics.  This  brief 
outline  of  the  Boyowan  folk-lore  in  general  must  suffice  here, 
as  we  cannot  enter  into  more  details,  and  the  only  class  which 
interests  us  in  the  present  connection  is  the  first  one,  that 
called  libogwo. 

This,  the  '  old  talk,'  the  body  of  ancient  tradition,  believed 
to  be  true,  consists  on  the  one  hand  of  historical  tales,  such 
as  the  deeds  of  past  chiefs,  exploits  in  the  Koya,  stories  of 
shipwreck,  etc.  On  the  other  hand,  the  'ibogwo  class  also 
contains  what  the  natives  call  lili'u — myths,  narratives, 
deeply  believed  by  them,  held  by  them  in  reverence,  and 
exercising  an  active  influence  on  their  conduct  and  tribal  life. 
Now  the  natives  distinguish  definitely  between  myth  •  and 
historic  account,  but  this  distinction  is  difficult  to  formulate, 
and  cannot  be  stated  but  in  a  somewhat  deliberate  manner. 

First  of  all,  it  must  be  borne  in  mind,  that  a  native  would 
not  trouble  spontaneously  to  analyse  such  distinctions  and  to 
put  them  into  words.  If  an  Ethnographer  succeeded  in  making 
the  problem  clear  to  an  intelligent  informant  (and  I  have  tried 
and  succeeded  in  doing  this)  the  native  would  simply  state  : 

"  We  all  know  that  the  stories  about  Tudava,  about 
Kudayuri,  about  Tokosikuna,  are  lili'u ;  our  fathers,  our 
kadada  (our  maternal  uncles)  told  us  so  ;  and  we  always 
hear  these  tales  ;  we  know  them  well  ;  we  know  that  there 
are  no  other  tales  besides  them,  which  are  lili'u.  Thus, 
whenever  we  hear  a  story,  we  know  whether  it  is  a 
lili'u  or  not." 


300  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

Indeed,  whenever  a  story  is  told,  any  native,  even  a  boy, 
would  be  able  to  say  whether  this  is  one  of  his  tribal  lili'u  or 
not.  For  the  other  tales,  that  is  the  historical  ones,  they  have 
no  special  word,  but  they  would  describe  the  events  as  happen- 
ing among  '  humans  like  ourselves.'  Thus  tradition,  from 
which  the  store  of  tales  is  received,  hands  them  on  labelled  as 
lili'u,  and  the  definition  of  a  lili'u,  is  that  it  is  a  story  "trans- 
mitted with  such  a  label.  And  even  this  definition  is  con- 
tained by  the  facts  themselves,  and  not  explicitly  stated  by  the 
natives  in  their  current  stock  of  expressions. 

For  us,  however,  even  this  is  not  sufficient,  and  we  have  to 
search  further,  in  order  to  see  whether  we  cannot  find  other 
indices,  other  characteristic  features  which  differentiate  the 
world  of  mythical  events  from  that  of  real  ones.  A  reflection 
which  would  naturally  present  itself  would  be  this  :  "  Surely 
the  natives  place  their  myths  in  ancient,  pre-historic  times, 
while  they  put  historical  events  into  recent  ages  ?  "  There  is 
some  truth  in  this,  in  so  far  as  most  of  the  historical  events 
related  by  the  natives  are  quite  recent,  have  occurred  within 
the  community  where  they  are  told  and  can  be  directly  con- 
nected with  people  and  conditions  existing  at  present,  by 
memory  of  living  man,  by  genealogies  or  other  records.  On 
the  other  hand,  when  historical  events  are  told  from  other 
districts,  and  cannot  be  directly  linked  with  the  present,  it 
would  be  erroneous  to  imagine  that  the  natives  place  them  into 
a  definite  compartment  of  time  different  from  that  of  the  myth. 
For  it  must  be  realised  that  these  natives  do  not  conceive  of  a 
past  as  of  a  lengthy  duration,  unrolling  itself  in  successive 
stages  of  time.  They  have  no  idea  of  a  long  vista  of  histori- 
cal occurrences,  narrowing  down  and  dimming  as  they  recede 
towards  a  distant  background  of  legend  and  myth,  which  stands 
out  as  something  entirely  different  from  the  nearer  planes. 
This  view,  so  characteristic  of  the  naive,  historical  thinking 
among  ourselves,  is  entirely  foreign  to  the  natives.  Whenever 
they  speak  of  some  event  of  the  past,  they  distinguish  whether 
it  happened  within  their  own  memory  or  that  of  their  fathers' 
or  not.  But,  once  beyond  this  line  of  demarcation,  all  the  past 
events  are  placed  by  them  on  one  plane,  and  there  are  no 
gradations  of  '  long  ago  '  and  '  very  long  ago.1  Any  idea  of 
epochs  in  time  is  absent  from  their  mind  ;  the  past  is  one  vast 
storehouse  of  events,  and  the  line  of  demarcation  between  myth 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  301 

and  history  does  not  coincide  with  any  division  into  definite 
and  distinct  periods  of  time.  Indeed,  I  have  found  very 
often  that  when  they  told  me  some  story  of  the  past,  for 
me  obviously  mythological,  they  would  deem  it  necessary 
to  emphasise  that  this  did  not  happen  in  their  fathers'  time 
or  in  their  grand-fathers'  time,  but  long  ago,  and  that  it  is 
a  lili'u. 

Again,  they  have  no  idea  of  what  could  be  called  the 
evolution  of  the  world  or  the  evolution  of  society  ;  that  is, 
they  do  not  look  back  towards  a  series  of  successive  changes, 
which  happened  in  nature  or  in  humanity,  as  we  do.  We, 
in  our  religious  and  scientific  outlook  alike,  know  that  earth 
ages  and  that  humanity  ages,  and  we  think  of  both  in  these 
terms  ;  for  them,  both  are  eternally  the  same,  eternally  youth- 
ful. Thus,  in  judging  the  remoteness  of  traditional  events, 
they  cannot  use  the  co-ordinates  of  a  social  setting  constantly 
in  change  and  divided  into  epochs.  To  give  a  concrete  example, 
in  the  myths  of  Torosipupu  and  Tolikalaki,  we  saw  them  having 
the  same  interest  and  concerns,  engaged  in  the  same  type  of 
fishing,  using  the  same  means  of  locomotion  as  the  present 
natives  do.  The  mythical  personages  of  the  natives' 
legends,  as  we  shall  presently  see,  live  in  the  same  houses,  eat 
the  same  food,  handle  the  same  weapons  and  implements  as 
those  in  use  at  present.  Whereas  in  any  of  our  historical 
stories,  legends  or  myths,  we  have  a  whole  set  of  changed 
cultural  conditions,  which  allow  us  to  co-ordinate  any  event 
with  a  certain  epoch,  and  which  make  us  feel  that  a  distant 
historical  event,  and  still  more,  a  mythological  one,  is  happening 
in  a  setting  of  cultural  conditions  entirely  different  from  those 
in  which  we  are  living  now.  In  the  very  telling  of  the  stories 
of,  let  us  say,  Joan  of  Arc,  Solomon,  Achilles,  King  Arthur,  we 
have  to  mention  all  sorts  of  things  and  conditions  long  since 
disappeared  from  among  us,  which  make  even  a  superficial 
and  an  uneducated  listener  realise  that  it  is  a  story  of  a  remote 
and  different  pasL 

I  have  said  just  now  that  the  mythical  personages  in  the 
Trobriand  tradition  are  living  the  same  type  of  life,  under  the 
same  social  and  cultural  conditions  as  the  present  natives. 
This  needs  one  qualification,  and  in  this  we  shall  find  a  very 
remarkable  criterion  for  a  distinction  between  what  is  legendary 
and  what  is  historical  :  in  the  mythical  world,  although 


302  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

surrounding  conditions  were  similar,  all  sorts  of  events  happened 
which  do  not  happen  nowadays,  and  people  were  endowed  with 
powers  such  as  present  men  and  their  historical  ancestors  do  not 
possess.  In  mythical  times,  human  beings  come  out  of  the 
ground,  they  change  into  animals,  and  these  become  people 
again  ;  men  and  women  rejuvenate  and  slough  their  skins  ; 
flying  canoes  speed  through  the  air,  and  things  are  transformed 
into  stone. 

Now  this  line  of  demarcation  between  the  world  of  myth  and 
that  of  actual  reality — the  simple  difference  that  in  the  former 
things  happen  which  never  occur  nowadays — is  undoubtedly 
felt  and  realised  by  the  natives,  though  they  themselves  could 
not  put  it  into  words.  They  know  quite  well  that  to-day  no 
one  emerges  from  underground  ;  that  people  do  not  change 
into  animals,  and  vice  versa  ;  nor  do  they  give  birth  to  them  ; 
that  present-day  canoes  do  not  fly.  I  had  the  opportunity  of 
grasping  their  mental  attitude  towards  such  things  by  the 
following  occurrence.  The  Fijian  missionary  teacher  in 
Omarakana  was  telling  them  about  white  man's  flying 
machines.  They  inquired  from  me,  whether  this  was  true, 
and  when  I  corroborated  the  Fijian's  report  and  showed  them 
pictures  of  aeroplanes  in  an  illustrated  paper,  they  asked  me 
whether  this  happened  nowadays  or  whether  it  were  a  lili'u.  This 
circumstance  made  it  clear  to  me  then,  that  the  natives  would 
have  a  tendency,  when  meeting  with  an  extraordinary  and  to 
them  supernatural  event,  either  to  discard  it  as  untrue,  or 
relegate  it  into  the  regions  of  the  lili'u.  This  does  not  mean, 
however,  that  the  untrue  and  the  mythical  are  the  same  or  even 
similar  to  them.  Certain  stories  told  to  them,  they  insist  on 
treating  as  sasopa  (lies),  and  maintain  that  they  are  not  lili'u. 
For  instance,  those  opposed  to  missionary  teaching  will  not 
accept  the  view  that  Biblical  stories  told  to  them  are  a  lili'u, 
but  they  reject  them  as  sasopa.  Many  a  time  did  I  hear  such  a 
conservative  native  arguing  thus  : — 

"  Our  stories  about  Tudava  are  true  ;  this  is  a  lili'u. 
If  you  go  to  Laba'i  you  can  see  the  cave  in  which  Tudava 
was  born,  you  can  see  the  beach  where  he  played  as  a  boy. 
You  can  see  his  footmark  in  a  stone  at  a  place  in  the 
Raybwag.  But  where  are  the  traces  of  Yesu  Keriso  ? 
Who  ever  saw  any  signs  of  the  tales  told  by  the  misinari  ? 
Indeed  they  are  not  lili'u." 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  303 

To  sum  up,  the  distinction  between  the  lili'u  and  actual 
or  historical  reality  is  drawn  firmly,  and  there  is  a  definite 
cleavage  between  the  two.  Prima  facie,  this  distinction  is 
based  on  the  fact  that  all  myth  is  labelled  as  such  and  known 
to  be  such  to  all  natives.  A  further  distinctive  mark  of  the 
world  of  lili'u  lies  in  the  super-normal,  supernatural  character 
of  certain  events  which  happen  in  it.  The  supernatural  is 
believed  to  be  true,  and  this  truth  is  sanctioned  by  tradition, 
and  by  the  various  signs  and  traces  left  behind  by  mythical 
events,  more  especially  by  the  magical  powers  handed  on  by 
the  ancestors  who  lived  in  times  of  lili'u.  This  magical  inheri- 
tance is  no  doubt  the  most  palpable  link  between  the  present 
and  the  mythical  past.  But  this  past  must  not  be  imagined  to 
form  a  pre-historic,  very  distant  background,  something  which 
preceded  a  long  evolution  of  mankind.  It  is  rather  the  past,  but 
extremely  near  reality,  very  much  alive  and  true  to  the  natives. 

As  I  have  just  said,  there  is  one  point  on  which  the  cleavage 
between  myth  and  present  reality,  however  deep,  is  bridged 
over  in  native  ideas.  The  extraordinary  powers  which  men 
possess  in  myths  are  mostly  due  to  their  knowledge  of  magic. 
This  knowledge  is,  in  many  cases,  lost,  and  therefore  the  powers 
of  doing  these  marvellous  things  are  either  completely  gone, 
or  else  considerably  reduced.  If  the  magic  could  be  recovered, 
men  would  fly  again  in  their  canoes,  they  could  rejuvenate, 
defy  ogres,  and  perform  the  many  heroic  deeds  which  they  did 
in  ancient  times.  Thus,  magic,  and  the  powers  conferred  by 
it,  are  really  the  link  between  mythical  tradition  and  the  present 
day.  Myth  has  crystallised  into  magical  formulae,  and  magic  in 
its  turn  bears  testimony  to  the  authenticity  of  myth.  Often 
the  main  function  of  myth  is  to  serve  as  a  foundation  for  a 
system  of  magic,  and,  wherever  magic  forms  the  backbone  of  an 
institution,  a  myth  is  also  to  be  found  at  the  base  of  it.  In 
this  perhaps,  lies  the  greatest  sociological  importance  of  myth, 
that  is,  in  its  action  upon  institutions  through  the  associated 
magic.  The  sociological  point  of  view  and  the  idea  of  the 
natives  coincide  here  in  a  remarkable  manner.  In  this  book 
we  see  this  exemplified  in  one  concrete  case,  in  that  of  the 
relation  between  the  mythology,  the  magic,  and  the  social 
institution  of  the  Kula. 

Thus  we  can  define  myth  as  a  narrative  of  events  which  are 
to  the  native  supernatural,  in  this  sense,  that  he  knows  well 


304  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

that  to-day  they  do  not  happen.  At  the  same  time  he  believes 
deeply  that  they  did  happen  then.  The  socially  sanctioned 
narratives  of  these  events  ;  the  traces  which  they  left  on  the 
surface  of  the  earth  ;  the  magic  in  which  they  left  behind  part 
of  their  supernatural  powers,  the  social  institutions  which  are 
associated  with  the  practice  of  this  magic — all  this  brings  about 
the  fact  that  a  myth  is  for  the  native  a  living  actuality,  though 
it  has  happened  long  ago  and  in  an  order  of  things  when  people 
were  endowed  with  supernatural  powers. 

I  have  said  before  that  the  natives  do  not  possess  any 
historical  perspective,  that  they  do  not  range  events — except 
of  course,  those  of  the  most  recent  decades — into  any  successive 
stages.  They  also  do  not  classify  their  myths  into  any  divisions 
with  regard  to  their  antiquity.  But  in  looking  at  their  myths, 
it  becomes  at  once  obvious  that  they  represent  events,  some  of 
which  must  have  happened  prior  to  others.  For  there  is  a 
group  of  stories  describing  the  origin  of  humanity,  the  emerging 
of  the  various  social  units  from  underground.  Another  group 
of  mythical  tales  gives  accounts  of  how  certain  important 
institutions  were  introduced  and  how  certain  customs  crystal- 
lised, Again,  there  are  myths  referring  to  small  changes  in 
culture,  or  to  the  introduction  of  new  details  and  minor  custom?. 
Broadly  speaking,  the  mythical  folk-lore  of  the  Trobrianders 
can  be  divided  into  three  groups  referring  to  three  different 
strata  of  events.  In  order  to  give  a  general  idea  of  Trobriand 
mythology,  it  will  be  good  to  give  a  short  characterisation  of 
each  of  these  groups. 

i.  The  Oldest  Myths,  referring  to  the  origin  of  human 
beings  ;  to  the  sociology  of  the  sub-clans  and  villages  ;  to  the 
establishment  of  permanent  relations  between  this  world  and 
the  next.  These  myths  describe  events  which  took  place  just 
at  the  moment  when  the  earth  began  to  be  peopled  from 
underneath.  Humanity  existed,  somewhere  underground,  since 
people  emerged  from  there  on  the  surface  of  Boyowa,  in  full 
decoration,  equipped  with  magic,  belonging  to  social  divisions, 
and  obeying  definite  laws  and  customs.  But  beyond  this  we 
know  nothing  about  what  they  did  underground.  There  is, 
however,  a  series  of  myths,  of  which  one  is  attached  to  every  one 
of  the  more  important  sub-clans,  about  various  ancestors 
coming  out  of  the  ground,  and  almost  at  once,  doing  some 
important  deed,  which  gives  a  definite  character  to  the  sub-clan. 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  305 

Certain  mythological  versions  about  the  nether  world  belong 
also  to  this  series. 

2.  Kultur  myths. — Here   belong  stories   about   ogres  and 
their  conquerors  ;  about  human  beings  who  established  definite 
customs  and  cultural  features  ;    about  the  origin  of  certain 
institutions.     These  myths  are  different  from   the  foregoing 
ones,  in  so  far  as  they  refer  to  a  time  when  humanity  was  already 
established  on  the  surface  of  the  earth,  and  when  all  the  social 
divisions  had  already  assumed  a  definite  character.     The  main 
cycle  of  myths  which  belong  here,  are  those  of  a  culture  hero, 
Tudava,  who  slays  an  ogre  and  thus  allows  people  to  live  in 
Boyowa  again,  whence  they  all  had  fled  in  fear  of  being  eaten 
A  story  about  the  origins  of  cannibalism  belongs  here  also,  and 
about  the  origin  of  garden  making. 

3.  Myths  in  which  figure  only  ordinary  human  beings,  though 
endowed  with  extraordinary  magical  powers.     These  myths 
are  distinguished  from  the  foregoing  ones,  by  the  fact  that  no 
ogres  or  non-human  persons  figure  in   them,    and   that   they 
refer  to  the  origin,  not  of  whole  aspects  of  culture,  such  as 
cannibalism  or  garden-making,  but  to  definite  institutions  or 
definite  forms  of  magic.     Here  comes  the  myth  about  the 
origins  of  sorcery,  the  myth  about  the  origins  of  love  magic,  the 
myth  of  the  flying  canoe,  and  finally  the  several  Kula  myths. 
The  line  of  division  between  these  three  categories  is,  of  course, 
not  a  rigid  one,  and  many  a  myth  could  be  placed  in  two  or 
even  three  of  these  classes,  according  to  its  several  features  or 
episodes.     But  each  myth  contains  as  a  rule  one  main  subject, 
and  if  we  take  only  this,  there  is  hardly  ever  the  slightest  doubt 
as  to  where  it  should  be  placed. 

A  point  which  might  appear  contradictory  in  superficial 
reading  is  that  before,  we  stressed  the  fact  that  the  natives  had 
no  idea  of  change,  yet  here  we  spoke  of  myths  about  '  origins  ' 
of  institutions.  It  is  important  to  realise  that,  though  natives 
do  speak  about  times  when  humanity  was  not  upon  the  earth, 
of  times  when  there  were  no  gardens,  etc.,  yet  all  these  things 
arrive  ready-made  ;  they  do  not  change  or  evolve.  The  first 
people,  who  came  from  underground,  came  up  adorned  with  the 
same  trinkets,  carrying  their  lime-pot  aoid  chewing  their  betel- 
nut.  The  event,  the  emergence  from  the  earth  was  mythical, 
that  is,  such  as  does  not  happen  now  ;  but  the  human  beings 
and  the  country  which  received  them  were  such  as  exist  to-day. 


306  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

III 

The  myths  of  the  Kula  are  scattered  along  a  section  of  the 
present  Kula  circuit.  Beginning  with  a  place  in  Eastern 
Woodlark  Island,  the  village  of  Wamwara,  the  mythological 
centres  are  spread  round  almost  in  a  semi-circle,  right  down 
to  the  island  of  Tewara,  where  we  have  left  for  the  present 
our  party  from  Sinaketa. 

In  Wamwara  there  lived  an  individual  called  Gere'u,  who, 
according  to  one  myth,  was  the  originator  of  the  Kula.  In  the 
island  of  Digumenu,  West  of  Woodlark  Island,  Tokosikuna, 
another  hero  of  the  Kula,  had  his  early  home,  though  he 
finished  his  career  in  Gumasila,  in  the  Amphletts.  Kitava, 
the  westernmost  of  the  Marshall  Bennetts,  is  the  centre  of  canoe 
magic  associated  with  the  Kula.  It  is  also  the  home  of 
Monikiniki,  whose  name  figures  in  many  formulae  of  the  Kula 
magic,  though  there  is  no  explicit  myth  about  him,  except  that 
he  was  the  first  man  to  practice  an  important  system  of 
mwasila  (Kula  magic),  probably  the  most  widespread  system 
of  the  present  day.  Further  West,  in  Wawela,  we  are  at  the 
other  end  of  the  Kasabwaybwayreta  myth,  which  starts  in 
Tewara,  and  goes  over  to  Wawela  in  its  narrative  of  events,  to 
return  to  Tewara  again.  This  mythological  narrative  touches 
the  island  of  Boyowa  at  its  southernmost  point,  the  passage 
Giribwa,  which  divides  it  from  Vakuta.  Almost  all  myths 
have  one  of  their  incidents  laid  in  a  small  island  between 
Vakuta  and  the  Amphletts,  called  Gabuwana.  One  of  the 
myths  leads  us  to  the  Amphletts,  that  of  Tokosikuna  ;  another 
has  its  beginning  and  end  in  Tewara.  Such  is  the  geography 
of  the  Kula  myths  on  the  big  sector  between  Murua  and  Dobu. 

Although  I  do  not  know  the  other  half  through  investi- 
gations made  on  the  spot,  I  have  spoken  with  natives  from 
those  districts,  and  I  think  that  there  are  no  myths  localised 
anywhere  on  the  sector  Murua  (Woodlark  Island),  Tubetube, 
and  Dobu.  What  I  am  quite  certain  of,  however,  is  that  the 
whole  of  the  Trobriands,  except  the  two  points  mentioned 
before,  lie  outside  the  mythological  area  of  the  Kula.  No 
Kula  stories,  associated  with  any  village  in  the  Northern  half 
of  Boyowa  exist,  nor  does  any  of  the  mythical  heroes  of  the 
other  stories  ever  come  to  the  Northern  or  Western  provinces  of 
the  Trobriands.  Such  extremely  important  centres  as  Sinaketa 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  307 

and  Oinarakana  are  never  mentioned.  This  would  point,  on 
the  surface  of  it,  to  the  fact  that  in  olden  days,  the  island  of 
Boyowa,  except  its  Southern  end  and  the  Eastern  settlement  of 
Wawela,  either  did  not  enter  at  all  or  did  not  play  an  important 
part  in  the  Kula. 

I  shall  give  a  somewhat  abbreviated  account  of  the  various 
stories,  and  then  adduce  in  extenso  the  one  last  mentioned, 
perhaps  the  most  noteworthy  of  all  the  Kula  myths,  that  of 
Kasabwaybwayreta,  as  well  as  the  very  important  canoe  myth, 
that  of  the  flying  waga  of  Kudayuri. 

The  Muruan  myth,  which  I  obtained  only  in  a  very  bald 
outline,  is  localised  in  the  village  of  Wamwara,  at  the  Eastern 
end  of  the  island.  A  man  called  Gere'u,  of  the  Lukuba  clan, 
knew  very  well  the  mwasila  magic,  and  wherever  he  went,  all 
the  valuables  were  given  to  him,  so  that  all  the  others  returned 
empty-handed.  He  went  to  Gawa  and  Iwa,  and  as  soon  as  he 
appeared,  pu-pu  went  the  conch  shells,  and  everybody  gave 
him  the  bagi  necklaces.  He  returned  to  his  village,  full  of 
glory  and  of  Kula  spoils.  Then  he  went  to  Du'a'u,  and 
obtained  again  an  enormous  amount  of  arm-shells.  He 
settled  the  direction  in  which  the  Kula  valuables  have  to  move. 
Bagi  necklaces  have  '  to  go/  and  the  am-shells  '  to  come.' 
As  this  was  spoken  on  Boyowa,  '  go  '  meant  to  travel  from 
Boyowa  to  Woodlark,  '  come  '  to  travel  from  Gere'u's  village 
to  Sinaketa.  The  culture  hero  Gere'u  was  finally  killed, 
through  envy  of  his  success  in  the  Kula. 

I  obtained  two  versions  about  the  mythological  hero, 
Tokosikuna  of  Digumenu.  In  the  first  of  them,  he  is  repre- 
sented as  a  complete  cripple,  without  hands  and  feet,  who  has 
to  be  carried  by  his  two  daughters  into  the  canoe.  They 
sail  on  a  Kula  expedition  through  Iwa,  Gawa,  through  the 
Straits  of  Giribwa  to  Gumasila.  Then  they  put  him  on  a 
platform,  where  he  takes  a  meal  and  goes  to  sleep.  They  leave 
him  there  and  go  into  a  garden  which  they  see  on  a  hill  above, 
in  order  to  gather  some  food.  On  coming  back,  they  find  him 
dead.  On  hearing  their  wailing,  an  ogre  comes  out,  marries 
one  of  them  and  adopts  the  other.  As  he  was  very  ugly, 
however,  the  girls  killed  him  in  an  obscene  manner,  and  then 
settled  in  the  island.  This  obviously  mutilated  and  superficial 
version  does  not  give  us  many  clues  to  the  native  ideas  about 
the  Kula. 


308  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

The  other  version  is  much  more  interesting.  Tokosikuna, 
according  to  it,  is  also  slightly  crippled,  lame,  very  ugly,  and 
with  a  pitted  skin  ;  so  ugly  indeed  that  he  could  not  marry. 
Far  North,  in  the  mythical  land  of  Kokopawa,  they  play  a 
flute  so  beautifully  that  the  chief  of  Digumenu,  the  village  of 
Tokosikuna,  hears  it.  He  wishes  to  obtain  the  flute.  Many 
men  set  out,  but  all  fail,  and  they  have  to  return  half*  way, 
because  it  is  so  far.  Tokosikuna  goes,  and,  through  a  mixture 
of  cunning  and  daring,  he  succeeds  in  getting  possession  of  the 
flute,  and  in  returning  safely  to  Digumenu.  There,  through 
magic  which  one  is  led  to  infer  he  has  acquired  on  his  journey, 
he  changes  his  appearance,  becomes  young,  smooth-skinned  and 
beautiful.  The  guya'u  (chief)  who  is  away  in  his  garden,  hears 
the  flute  played  in  his  village,  and  returning  there,  he  sees 
Tokosikuna  sitting  on  a  high  platform,  playing  the  flute  and 
looking  beautiful.  "  Well,"  he  says,  "  all  my  daughters,  all 
my  granddaughters,  my  nieces  and  my  sisters,  you  all  marry 
Tokosikuna  !  Your  husbands,  you  leave  behind  !  You  marry 
Tokosikuna,  for  he  has  brought  the  flute  from  the  distant 
land  !  "  So  Tokosikuna  married  all  the  women. 

The  other  men  did  not  take  it  very  well,  of  course.  They 
decided  to  get  rid  of  Tokosikuna  by  stratagem.  They  said  • 
"  The  chief  would  like  to  eat  giant  clam-shell,  let  us  go  and 
fish  it."  "  And  how  shall  I  catch  it  ?  "  asks  Tokosikuna. 
"  You  put  your  head,  where  the  clam-shell  gapes  open."  (This 
of  course  would  mean  death,  as  the  clam-shell  would  close,  and, 
if  a  really  big  one,  would  easily  cut  off  his  head).  Tokosikuna, 
however,  dived  and  with  his  two  hands,  broke  a  clam-shell 
open,  a  deed  of  super-human  strength.  The  others  were  angry, 
and  planned  another  form  of  revenge.  They  arranged  a  shark- 
fishing,  advising  Tokosikuna  to  catch  the  fish  with  his  hands. 
But  he  simply  strangled  the  big  shark,  and  put  it  into  the 
canoe.  Then,  he  tears  asunder  a  boar's  mouth,  bringing  them 
thus  to  despair.  Finally  they  decide  to  get  rid  of  him  at  sea. 
They  try  to  kill  him  first  by  letting  the  heavy  tree,  felled  for  the 
waga,  fall  on  him.  But  he  supports  it  with  his  outstretched 
arms,  and  does  no  harm  to  himself.  At  the  time  of  lashing, 
his  companions  wrap  some  wayaugo  (lashing  creeper)  into  a  soft 
pandanus  leaf  ;  then  they  persuade  him  to  use  pandanus  only 
for  the  lashing  of  his  canoe,  which  he  does  indeed,  deceived  by 
seeing  them  use  what  apparently  is  the  same  Then  they 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  309 

sail,  the  other  men  in  good,  sea-worthy  canoes,  he  in  an  entirely 
unseaworthy  one,  lashed  only  with  the  soft,  brittle  pandanus  leaf. 

And  here  begins  the  real  Kula  part  of  the  myth  The 
expedition  arrives  at  Gawa,  where  Tokosikuna  remains  with 
his  canoe  on  the  beach,  while  the  other  men  go  to  the  village  to 
kula.  They  collect  all  the  smaller  armshells  of  the  soulava 
type,  but  the  big  ones,  the  bagi,  remain  in  the  village,  for  the 
local  men  are  unwilling  to  give  them.  Then  Tokosikuna  starts 
for  the  village  after  all  the  others  have  returned.  After  a  short 
while,  he  arrives  from  the  village,  carrying  all  the  bagido'u 
bagidudu,  and  bagiriku — that  is,  all  the  most  valuable  types  of 
spondylus  necklaces.  The  same  happens  in  Iwa  and  Kitava. 
His  companions  from  the  other  canoes  go  first  and  succeed 
only  in  collecting  the  inferior  kinds  of  valuables.  He  after- 
wards enters  the  village,  and  easily  obtains  the  high  grades  of 
necklace,  which  had  been  refused  to  the  others.  These  become 
very  angry  ;  in  Kitava,  they  inspect  the  lashings  of  his  canoe, 
and  see  that  they  are  rotten.  "  Oh  well,  to-morrow,  Vakuta  ! 
The  day  after,  Gumasila, — he  will  drown  in  Pilolu."  In 
Vakuta  the  same  happens  as  before,  and  the  wrath  of  his  un- 
^uccessful  companions  increases. 

They  sail  and  passing  the  sandbank  of  Gabula  (this  is  the 
Trobriand  name  for  Gabuwana,  as  the  Amphlettans  pronounce 
it)  Tokosikuna  eases  his  helm  ;  then,  as  he  tries  to  bring  the 
canoe  up  to  the  wind  again,  his  lashings  snap,  and  the  canoe 
sinks.  He  swims  in  the  waves,  carrying  the  basket-full  of 
valuables  in  one  arm.  He  calls  out  to  the  other  canoes  : 
"  Come  and  take  your  bagi!  I  shall  get  into  your  waga  f  " 
"  You  married  all  our  women,"  they  answer,  "  now,  sharks  will 
cat  you  !  We  shall  go  to  make  Kula  in  Dobu  !  "  Tokosikuna, 
however,  swims  safely  to  the  point  called  Kamsareta,  in  the 
island  of  Domdom.  From  there  he  beholds  the  rock  of 
Selawaya  standing  out  of  the  jungle  on  the  eastern  slope  of 
Gumasila.  "  This  is  a  big  rock,  I  shall  go  and  live  there/'  and 
turning  towards  the  Digumenu  canoes,  he  utters  a  curse  . 

"  You  will  get  nothing  in  Dobu  but  poor  necklaces,  soulava 
of  the  type  of  tutumuyuwa  and  tutuyanabwa.  The  big  bagido'u 
will  stop  with  me."  He  remains  in  the  Amphletts  and  does  not 
return  to  Digumenu.  And  here  ends  the  myth. 

I  have  given  an  extensive  summary  of  this  myth,  including 
its  first  part,  which  has  nothing  to  do  with  the  Kula,  because 


310  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

it  gives  a  full  character  sketch  of  the  hero  as  a  daring  sailor  and 
adventurer.  It  shows,  how  Tokosikuna,  after  his  Northern 
trip,  acquired  magic  which  allowed  him  to  change  his  ugly  and 
weak  frame  into  a  powerful  body  with  a  beautiful  appearance. 
The  first  part  also  contains  the  reference  to  his  great  success 
with  women,  an  association  between  Kula  magic  and  love  magic, 
which  as  we  shall  see,  is  not  without  importance.  In  thi£  first 
part,  that  is,  up  to  the  moment  when  they  start  on  the  Kula, 
Tokosikuna  appears  as  a  hero,  endowed  with  extraordinary 
powers,  due  to  his  knowledge  of  magic. 

In  this  myth,  as  we  see,  no  events  are  related  through 
which  the  natural  appearance  of  the  landscape  is  changed. 
Therefore  this  myth  is  typical  of  what  I  have  called  the  most 
recent  stratum  of  mythology.  This  is  further  confirmed  by 
the  circumstance  that  no  allusion  is  made  in  it  to  any  origins, 
not  even  to  the  origins  of  the  mwasila  magic.  For,  as  the  myth 
is  at  present  told  and  commented  upon,  all  the  men  who  go  on 
the  Kula  expedition  with  our  hero,  know  a  system  of  Kula 
magic,  the  mwasila  of  Monikiniki.  Tokosikuna's  superiority 
rests  with  his  special  beauty  magic  ;  with  his  capacity  to 
display  enormous  strength,  and  to  face  with  impunity  great 
dangers  ;  with  his  ability  to  escape  from  drowning,  finally,  with 
his  knowledge  of  the  evil  magic,  bulubwalata,  with  which  he 
prevents  his  companions  from  doing  successful  Kula.  This  last 
point  was  contained  in  a  commentary  upon  this  myth,  given  to 
me  by  the  man  who  narrated  it.  When  I  speak  about  the  Kula 
magic  more  explicitly  further  on,  the  reader  will  see  that  the 
four  points  of  superiority  just  mentioned  correspond  to  the 
categories  into  which  we  have  to  group  the  Kula  magic,  when  it 
is  classified  according  to  its  leading  ideas,  according  to  the  goal 
towards  which  it  aims. 

One  magic  Tokosikuna  does  not  know.  We  see  from  the 
myth  that  he  is  ignorant  of  the  nature  of  the  wayugo,  the  lashing 
creeper.  He  is  therefore  obviously  not  a  canoe-builder,  nor 
acquainted  with  canoe-building  magic.  This  is  the  point  on 
which  his  companions  are  able  to  catch  him. 

Geographically,  this  myth  links  Digumenu  with  the 
Amphletts,  as  also  did  the  previous  version  of  the  Tokosikuna 
story.  The  hero,  here  as  there,  settles  finally  in  Gumasila,  and 
the  element  of  migration  is  contained  in  both  versions.  Again, 
in  the  last  story,  Tokosikuna  decides  to  settle  in  the  Amphletts, 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  311 

on  seeing  the  Selawaya  rock.  If  we  remember  the  Gumasilan 
legend  about  the  origin  of  Kula  magic,  it  also  refers  to  the  same 
rock.  I  did  not  obtain  the  name  of  the  individual  who  is 
believed  to  have  lived  on  the  Selawaya  rock,  but  it  obviously  is 
the  same  myth,  only  very  mutilated  in  the  Gumasilan  version. 

IV 

Moving  Westwards  from  Digumenu,  to  which  the  Tokosi- 
kuna  myth  belongs,  the  next  important  centre  of  Kula  magic 
is  the  island  of  Kitava.  With  this  place,  the  magical  system  of 
Monikiniki  is  associated  by  tradition,  though  no  special  story 
is  told  about  this  individual.  A  very  important  myth,  on  the 
other  hand,  localised  in  Kitava,  is  the  one  which  serves  as 
foundation  for  canoe  magic.  I  have  obtained  three  indepen- 
dent versions  of  this  myth,  and  they  agree  substantially.  I 
shall  adduce  at  length  the  story  as  it  was  told  to  me  by  the  best 
informant,  and  written  down  in  Kiriwinian,  and  after  that,  I 
shall  show  on  what  points  the  other  versions  vary.  I  shall  not 
omit  from  the  full  account  certain  tedious  repetitions  and 
obviously  inessential  details,  for  they  are  indispensable  for 
imparting  to  the  narrative  the  characteristic  flavour  of  native 
folk-lore. 

To  understand  the  following  account,  it  is  necessary  to 
realise  that  Kitava  is  a  raised  coral  island.  Its  inland  part  is 
elevated  to  a  height  of  about  three  hundred  feet.  Behind  the 
flat  beach,  a  steep  coral  wall  rises,  and  from  its  summit  the  land 
gently  falls  towards  the  central  declivity.  It  is  in  this  central 
part  that  the  villages  are  situated,  and  it  would  be  quite  impossi- 
ble to  transport  a  canoe  from  any  village  to  the  beach.  Thus, 
in  Kitava,  unlike  what  happens  with  some  of  the  Lagoon 
villages  of  Boyowa,  the  canoes  have  to  be  always  dug  out  and 
lashed  on  the  beach. 

THE   MYTH   OF  THE   FLYING   CANOE   OF   KUDAYURI. 

"  Mokatuboda  of  the  Lukuba  clan  and  his  younger 
brother  Toweyre'i  lived  in  the  village  of  Kudayuri.  With 
them  lived  their  three  sisters  Kayguremwo,  Na'ukuwakula 
and  Murumweyri'a.  They  had  all  come  out  from  under- 
ground in  the  spot  called  Labikewo,  in  Kitava.  These 
people  were  the  u'ula  (foundation,  basis,  here :  first 
possessors)  of  the  ligogu  and  wayugo  magic.1' 


3i2  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

"  All  the  men  of  Kitava  decided  on  a  great  Kula  expe- 
dition to  the  Koya.  The  men  of  Kumwageya,  Kaybutu, 
Kabululo  and  Lalela  made  their  canoes.  They  scooped  out 
the  inside  of  the  waga,  they  carved  the  tabuyo  and  lagim 
(decorated  prow  boards),  they  made  the  budaka  (lateral 
gunwale  planks).  They  brought  the  component  parts  to 
the  beach,  in  order  to  make  the  yowaga  (to  put  and  lash 
them  together)/' 

"  The  Kudayuri  people  made  their  canoe  in  the  village. 
Mokatuboda,  the  head  man  of  the  Kudayuri  village,  ordered 
them  to  do  so.  They  were  angry  :  '  Very  heavy  canoe. 
Who  will  carry  it  to  the  beach  ?  '  He  said  :  '  No,  not  so  ; 
it  will  be  well.  I  shall  just  lash  my  waga  in  the  village/ 
He  refused  to  move  the  canoe  ;  it  remained  in  the  village. 
The  other  people  pieced  their  canoe  on  the  beach  ;  he 
pieced  it  together  in  the  village.  They  lashed  it  with  the 
wayugo  creeper  on  the  beach  ;  he  lashed  his  in  the  village. 
They  caulked  their  canoes  on  the  sea-shore  ;  he  caulked 
his  in  the  village.  They  painted  their  canoes  on  the  beach 
with  black  ;  he  blackened  his  in  the  village.  They  made 
the  youlala  (painted  red  and  white)  on  the  beach  ;  he 
made  the  youlala  in  the  village.  They  sewed  their  sail  on 
the  beach  ;  he  did  it  in  the  village.  They  rigged  up  the 
mast  and  rigging  on  the  beach  ;  he  in  the  village.  After 
that,  the  men  of  Kitava  made  tasasoria  (trial  run)  and  kabi- 
gidoya  (visit  of  ceremonial  presentation),  but  the  Kudayuri 
canoe  did  not  make  either/' 

"  By  and  by,  all  the  men  of  Kitava  ordered  their  women 
to  prepare  the  food.  The  women  one  day  put  all  the 
food,  the  gugu'a  (personal  belongings),  the  pari  (presents 
and  trade  goods)  into  the  canoe.  The  people  of  Kudayuri 
had  all  these  things  put  into  their  canoe  in  the  village. 
The  h&idman  of  the  Kudayuri,  Mokatuboda,  asked  all  his 
younger  brothers,  all  the  members  of  his  crew,  to  bring 
some  of  their  pari,  and  he  performed  magic  over  it,  and 
made  a  lilava  (magical  bundle)  of  it." 

"  The  people  of  other  villages  went  to  the  beach  ;  each 
canoe  was  manned  by  its  usagelu  (members  of  the  crew). 
The  man  of  Kudayuri  ordered  his  crew  to  man  his  canoe 
in  the  village.  They  of  the  other  villages  stepped  the  mast 
on  the  shore  ;  he  stepped  the  mast  in  the  village.  They 
prepared  the  rigging  on  the  shore  ;  he  prepared  the 
rigging  in  the  village.  They  hoisted  the  sail  on  the  sea  ; 
he  spoke  '  May  our  sail  be  hoisted/  and  his  companions 
hoisted  th$  sail.  He  spoke  :  '  Sit  in  your  places,  every 
man  !  '  He  went  into  the  house,  he  took  his  ligogu  (adze), 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  313 

he  took  some  coco-nut  oil,  he  took  a  staff.  He  spoke  magic 
over  the  adze,  over  the  coco-nut  oil.  He  came  out  of  the 
house,  he  approached  the  canoe.  A  small  dog  of  his  called 
Tokulubweydoga  jumped  into  the  canoe.*  He  spoke 
to  his  crew  :  '  Pull  up  the  sail  higher/  They  pulled  at 
the  halyard.  He  rubbed  the  staff  with  the  coco-nut  oil. 
He  knocked  the  canoe's  skids  with  the  staff.  Then  he 
struck  with  his  ligogu  the  u'ula  of  his  canoe  and  the 
dobwana  (that  is,  both  ends  of  the  canoe).  He  jumped  into 
the  canoe,  sat  down,  and  the  canoe  flew  !  " 

"  A  rock  stood  before  it.  It  pierced  the  rock  in  two,  and 
flew  through  it.  He  bent  down,  he  looked  ;  his  com- 
panions (that  is,  the  other  canoes  of  Kitava)  sailed  on  the 
sea.  He  spoke  to  his  younger  brothers,  (that  is  to  his 
relatives  in  the  canoe)  :  '  Bail  out  the  water,  pour  it  out  !  ' 
Those  who  sailed  on  the  earth  thought  it  was  rain,  this 
water  which  they  poured  out  from  above." 

"  They  (the  other  canoes)  sailed  to  Giribwa,  they  saw 
a  canoe  anchored  there.  They  said  :  '  Is  that  the  canoe 
from  Dobu  ?  '  They  thought  so,  they  wanted  to  lebu 
(take  by  force,  but  not  necessarily  as  a  hostile  act)  the 
buna  (big  cowrie)  shells  of  the  Dobu  people.  Then  they 
saw  the  dog  walking  on  the  beach.  They  said  :  '  Wi-i-i  ! 
This  is  Tokulubweydoga,  the  dog  of  the  Lukuba  !  This 
canoe  they  lashed  in  the  village,  in  the  village  of  Kudayuri. 
Which  way  did  it  come  ?  It  was  anchored  in  the  jungle  !  ' 
They  approached  the  people  of  Kudayuri,  they  spoke  : 
'  Which  way  did  you  come  ?  '  '  Oh,  I  came  together  with 
you  (the  same  way).'  '  It  rained.  Did  it  rain  over  you  ? ' 
'  Oh  yes,  it  has  rained  over  me/  " 

"  Next  day,  they  (the  men  of  the  other  villages  of 
Kitava),  sailed  to  Vakuta  and  went  ashore.  They  made 
their  Kula.  The  next  day  they  sailed,  and  he  (Mokatu- 
boda)  remained  in  Vakuta.  When  they  disappeared  on  the 
sea,  his  canoe  flew.  He  flew  from  Vakuta.  When  they 
(the  other  crews)  arrived  in  Gumasila,  he  was  there  on  the 
promontory  of  Lububuyama.  They  said  :  '  This  canoe 
is  like  the  canoe  of  our  companions/  and  the  dog  came  out. 
'  This  is  the  dog  of  the  Lukuba  clan  of  Kudayuri/  They 
asked  him  again  which  way  he  came  ;  he  said  he  came 
the  same  way  as  they.  They  made  the  Kula  in  Gumasila. 
He  said  :  '  You  sail  first,  I  shall  sail  later  on/  They  were 
astonished  *  '  Which  way  does  he  sail  ?  '  They  slept 
in  Gumasila." 

*  The  reader  will  note  that  this  is  the  same  name,  which  another  mythical 
log  bore,  also  of  the  Lukuba  clan  as  all  dogs  are,  the  one  namely  from  whom 
he  kayga'u  magic  is  traced.  Cf.  Chapter  X,  Division  V. 


3i4  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

"  Next  day  they  sailed  to  Tewara,  they  arrived  at  the 
beach  of  Kadimwatu.  They  saw  his  canoe  anchored 
there,  the  dog  came  out  and  ran  along  the  beach.  They 
spoke  to  the  Kudayuri  men,  '  How  did  you  come  here  ?  * 
'  We  came  with  you,  the  same  way  we  came/  They  made 
Kula  in  Tewara.  Next  day,  they  sailed  to  Bwayowa 
(village  in  Dobu  district)  He  flew,  and  anchored  at  the 
beach  Sarubwoyna.  They  arrived  there,  they  saw  :k  '  Oh, 
look  at  the  canoe,  are  these  fishermen  from  Dobu  ?  '  The 
dog  came  out.  They  recognised  the  dog.  They  asked 
him  (Mokatuboda)  which  way  he  came  :  '  I  came  with 
you,  I  anchored  here/  They  went  to  the  village  of 
Bwayowa,  they  made  Kula  in  the  village,  they  loaded  their 
canoes.  They  received  presents  from  the  Dobu  people 
at  parting,  and  the  Kitava  men  sailed  on  the  return 
journey.  They  sailed  first,  and  he  flew  through  the  air/  " 

On  the  return  journey,  at  every  stage,  they  see  him 
first,  they  ask  him  which  way  he  went,  and  he  gives  them 
some  sort  of  answer  as  the  above  ones. 

"  From  Giribwa  they  sailed  to  Kitava  ;  he  remained  in 
Giribwa  ;  he  flew  from  Giribwa  ;  he  went  to  Kitava,  to 
the  beach.  His  gugu'a  (personal  belongings)  were  being 
carried  to  the  village  when  his  companions  came  paddling 
along,  and  saw  his  canoe  anchored  and  the  dog  running  on 
the  beach.  All  the  other  men  were  very  angry,  because 
his  canoe  flew/' 

"  They  remained  in  Kitava.  Next  year,  they  made  their 
gardens,  all  the  men  of  Kitava.  The  sun  was  very  strong, 
there  was  no  rain  at  all.  The  sun  burned  their  gardens. 
This  man  (the  head  man  of  Kudayuri,  Mokatuboda)  went 
into  the  garden.  He  remained  there,  he  made  a 
bulubwalata  (evil  magic)  of  the  rain.  A  small  cloud  came 
and  rained  on  his  garden  only,  and  their  gardens  the  sun 
burned.  They  (the  other  men  of  Kitava)  went  and  saw 
their  gardens.  They  arrived  there,  they  saw  all  was 
dead,  already  the  sun  had  burned  them.  They  went  to 
his  garden  and  it  was  all  wet  :  yams,  taitu,  taro,  all  was  fine. 
They  spoke  :  '  Let  us  kill  him  so  that  he  might  die.  We 
shall  then  speak  magic  over  the  clouds,  and  it  will  rain 
over  our  gardens/  " 

"  The  real,  keen  magic,  the  Kudayuri  man  (i.e. 
Mokatuboda)  did  not  give  to  them  ;  he  gave  them  not 
the  magic  of  the  ligogu  (adze)  ;  he  gave  them  not  the  magic 
of  kunisalili  (rain  magic)  ;  he  gave  them  not  the  magic 
of  the  wayugo  (lashing  creeper),  of  the  coco-nut  oil  and 
staff.  Toweyre'i,  his  younger  brother,  thought  that  he 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  315 

had  already  received  the  magic,  but  he  was  mistaken. 
His  elder  brother  gave  him  only  part  of  the  magic,  the  real 
one  he  kept  back/' 

"  They  came  (to  Mokatuboda,  the  head  man  of 
Kudayuri),  he  sat  in  his  village.  His  brothers  and  maternal 
nephews  sharpened  the  spear,  they  hit  him,  he  died." 

"  Next  year,  they  decided  to  make  a  big  Kula  expe- 
dition, to  Dobu.  The  old  waga,  cut  and  lashed  by 
Mokatuboda,  was  no  more  good,  the  lashings  had  perished. 
Then  Toweyre'i,  the  younger  brother,  cut  a  new  one  to 
replace  the  old.  The  people  of  Kumwageya  and  Lalela 
(the  other  villages  in  Kitava)  heard  that  Toweyre'i  cuts 
his  waga,  and  they  also  cut  theirs.  They  pieced  and  lashed 
their  canoes  on  the  beach.  Toweyre'i  did  it  in  the  village." 

Here  the  native  narrative  enumerates  every  detail  of 
canoe  making,  drawing  the  contrast  between  the  pro- 
ceedings on  the  beach  of  the  other  Kitavans,  and  of 
Toweyre'i  building  the  canoe  in  the  village  of  Kudayuri. 
It  is  an  exact  repetition  of  what  was  said  at  the  beginning, 
when  Mokatuboda  was  building  his  canoe,  and  I  shall  not 
adduce  it  here.  The  narrative  arrives  at  the  critical 
moment  when  all  the  members  of  the  crew  are  seated  in 
the  canoe  ready  for  the  flight. 

"  Toweyre'i  went  into  the  house  and  made  magic  over 
the  adze  and  the  coco-nut  oil.  He  came  out,  smeared  a 
staff  with  the  oil,  knocked  the  skids  of  the  canoe.  He 
then  did  as  his  elder  brother  did.  He  struck  both  ends 
of  the  canoe  with  the  adze.  He  jumped  into  the  canoe 
and  sat  down  ;  but  the  waga  did  not  fly.  Toweyre'i  went 
into  the  house  and  cried  for  his  elder  brother,  whom  he 
had  slain  ;  he  had  killed  him  without  knowing  his  magic. 
The  people  of  Kumwageya  and  Lalela  went  to  Dobu  and 
made  their  Kula.  The  people  of  Kudayuri  remained  in 
the  village." 

"  The  three  sisters  were  very  angry  with  Toweyre'i,  for 
he  killed  the  elder  brother  and  did  not  learn  his  magic. 
They  themselves  had  learnt  the  ligogu,  the  wayugo  magic  ; 
they  had  it  already  in  their  lopoula  (belly).  They  could 
fly  through  the  air,  they  were  yoyova.  In  Kitava  they 
lived  on  the  top  of  Botigale'a  hill.  They  said  :  '  Let  us 
leave  Kitava  and  fly  away.'  They  flew  through  the  air. 
One  of  them,  Na'ukuwakula,  flew  to  the  West,  pierced 
through  the  sea-passage  Dikuwa'i  (somewhere  in  the 
Western  Trobriands)  ;  she  arrived  at  Simsim  (one  of  the 
Lousan^ay).  There  she  turned  into  a  stone,  she  stands 
in  the  sea." 


3i6  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

"  The  two  others  flew  first  (due  West)  to  the  beach  of 
Yalumugwa  (on  the  Eastern  shore  of  Boyowa).  There 
they  tried  to  pierce  the  coral  rock  named  Yakayba — it 
was  too  hard.  They  went  (further  South  on  the  Eastern 
shore)  through  the  sea-passage  of  Vilasasa  and  tried  to 
pierce  the  rock  Kuyaluya — they  couldn't.  They  went 
(further  South)  and  tried  to  pierce  the  rock  of  Kawakari — 
it  was  too  hard.  They  went  (further  South).  They  tried 
to  pierce  the  rocks  at  Giribwa.  They  succeeded.  That 
is  why  there  is  now  a  sea  passage  at  Giribwa  (the  straits 
dividing  the  main  island  of  Boyowa  from  the  island  of 
Vakuta)." 

"  They  flew  (further  South)  towards  Dobu.  They 
came  to  the  island  of  Tewara.  They  came  to  the  beach  of 
Kadimwatu  and  pierced  it.  This  is  where  the  straits  of 
Kadimwatu  are  now  between  the  islands  of  Tewara  and 
Uwania.  They  went  to  Dobu  ;  they  travelled  further 
South,  to  the  promontory  of  Saramwa  (near  Dobu  island). 
They  spoke  :  '  Shall  we  go  round  the  point  or  pierce  right 
through  ?  '  They  went  round  the  point.  They  met 
another  obstacle  and  pierced  it  through,  making  the 
Straits  of  Loma  (at  the  Western  end  of  Dawson  Straits). 
They  came  back,  they  returned  and  settled  near  Tewara. 
They  turned  into  stones  ;  they  stand  in  the  sea.  One 
of  them  cast  her  eyes  on  Dobu,  this  is  Murumweyri'a  ; 
she  eats  men,  and  the  Dobuans  are  cannibals.  The  other 
one,  Kayguremwo,  does  not  eat  men,  and  her  face  is 
turned  towards  Boyowa.  The  people  of  Boyowa  do  not 
eat  man." 

This  story  is  extremely  clear  in  its  general  outline,  and 
very  dramatic,  and  all  its  incidents  and  developments  have  a 
high  degree  of  consistency  and  psychological  motivation.  It 
is  perhaps  the  most  telling  of  all  myths  from  this  part  of  the 
world  which  came  under  my  notice.  It  is  also  a  good  example 
of  what  has  been  said  before  in  Division  II.  Namely  that  the 
identical  conditions,  sociological  and  cultural,  which  obtain  at 
the  present  time,  are  also  reflected  in  mythical  narratives. 
The  only  exception  to  this  is  the  much  higher  efficiency  of  magic 
found  in  the  world  of  myth.  The  tale  of  Kudayuri,  on  the  one 
hand,  describes  minutely  the  sociological  conditions  of  the 
heroes,  their  occupations  and  concerns,  and  all  these  do  not 
differ  at  all  from  the  present  ones.  On  the  other  hand,  it  shows 
the  hero  endowed  with  a  truly  super-normal  power  through  his 
magic  of  canoe  building  and  of  rain  making.  Nor  could  it  be 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  317 

more  convincingly  stated  than  is  done  in  this  narrative  that  the 
full  knowledge  of  the  right  magic  was  solely  responsible  for  these 
supernatural  powers. 

In  its  enumeration  of  the  various  details  of  tribal  life,  this 
myth  is  truly  a  fount  of  ethnographic  information.  Its  state- 
ments, when  made  complete  and  explicit  by  native  comment, 
contain  a  good  deal  of  what  is  to  be  known  about  the  sociology, 
technology  and  organisation  of  canoe-making,  sailing,  and  of 
the  Kula.  If  followed  up  into  detail,  the  incidents  of  this 
narrative  make  us  acquainted  for  instance,  with  the  division 
into  clans  ;  with  the  origin  and  local  character  of  these  latter ; 
with  ownership  of  magic  and  its  association  with  the  totemic 
group.  In  almost  all  mythological  narratives  of  the  Trobri- 
ands,  the  clan,  the  sub-clan  and  the  locality  of  the  heroes  are 
stated.  In  the  above  version,  we  see  that  the  heroes  have 
emerged  at  a  certain  spot,  and  that  they  themselves  came 
from  underground  ;  that  is,  that  they  are  the  first  representa- 
tives of  their  totemic  sub-clan  on  the  surface  of  the  earth.  In 
the  two  other  versions,  this  last  point  was  not  explicitly  stated, 
though  I  think  it  is  implied  in  the  incidents  of  this  myth,  for 
obviously  the  flying  canoe  is  built  for  the  first  time,  as  it  is  for 
the  last.  In  other  versions,  I  was  told  that  the  hole  from  which 
this  sub-clan  emerged  is  also  called  Kudayuri,  and  that  the 
name  of  their  magical  system  is  Viluvayaba. 

Passing  to  the  following  part  of  the  tale,  we  find  in  it  a 
description  of  canoe-building,  and  this  was  given  to  me  in  the 
same  detailed  manner  in  all  three  versions.  Here  again,  if  we 
would  substitute  for  the  short  sentences  a  fuller  account  of 
what  happens,  such  as  could  be  elicited  from  any  intelligent 
native  informant ;  if  for  each  word  describing  the  stages  of 
canoe-building  we  insert  a  full  description  of  the  processes  for 
which  these  words  stand — we  would  have  in  this  myth  an 
almost  complete,  ethnographic  account  of  canoe-building. 
We  would  see  the  canoe  pieced  together,  lashed,  caulked, 
painted,  rigged  out,  provided  with  a  sail  till  it  lies  ready  to  be 
launched.  Besides  the  successive  enumeration  of  technical 
stages,  we  have  in  this  myth  a  clear  picture  of  the  role  played 
by  the  headman,  who  is  the  nominal  owner  of  the  canoe,  and 
who  speaks  of  it  as  his  canoe  and  at  the  same  time  directs  its 
building  ;  overrides  the  wishes  of  others,  and  is  responsible 
for  the  magic.  We  have  even  the  mention  of  the  tasasoria  and 


3i8  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

kabigidoya,  and  several  allusions  to  the  Kula  expedition  of 
which  the  canoe-building  in  this  myth  is  represented  as  a 
preliminary  stage.  The  frequent,  tedious  repetitions  and 
enumerations  of  customary  sequences  of  events,  interesting  as 
data  of  folk-lore,  are  not  less  valuable  as  ethnographic  docu- 
ments, and  as  illustrations  of  the  natives'  attitude  towards 
custom.  Incidentally,  this  feature  of  native  mythology 
shows  that  the  task  of  serving  as  ethnographic  informant  is 
not  so  foreign  and  difficult  to  a  native  as  might  at  first  appear. 
He  is  quite  used  to  recite  one  after  the  other  the  various  stages 
of  customary  proceedings  in  his  own  narratives,  and  he  does 
it  with  an  almost  pedantic  accuracy  and  completeness,  and  it 
is  an  easy  task  for  him  to  transfer  these  qualities  to  the  accounts, 
which  he  is  called  upon  to  make  in  the  service  of  ethnography. 

The  dramatic  effect  of  the  climax  of  the  story,  of  the  unex- 
pected flight  of  the  canoe  is  clearly  brought  out  in  the  narrative, 
and  it  was  given  to  me  in  all  its  three  versions.  In  all  three, 
the  members  of  the  crew  are  made  to  pass  through  the  numerous 
preparatory  stages  of  sailing.  And  the  parallel  drawn  between 
the  reasonable  proceedings  of  their  fellows  on  the  beach,  and  the 
absurd  manner  in  which  they  are  made  to  get  ready  in  the 
middle  of  the  village,  some  few  hundred  feet  above  the  sea, 
makes  the  tension  more  palpable  and  the  sudden  denouement 
more  effective.  In  all  accounts  of  this  myth,  the  magic  is  also 
performed  just  before  the  flight,  and  its  performance  is  explicitly 
mentioned  and  included  as  an  important  episode  in  the  story. 

The  incident  of  bailing  some  water  out  of  a  canoe  which 
never  touched  the  sea,  seems  to  show  some  inconsistency.  If 
we  remember,  however,  that  water  is  poured  into  a  canoe, 
while  it  is  built,  in  order  to  prevent  its  drying  and  consequently 
its  shrinking,  cracking  and  warping,  the  inconsistency  and  flaw 
in  the  narrative  disappear.  I  may  add  that  the  bailing  and 
rain  incident  is  contained  in  one  of  my  three  versions  only. 

The  episode  of  the  dog  is  more  significant  and  more  impor- 
tant to  the  natives,  and  is  mentioned  in  all  three  versions.  The 
dog  is  the  animal  associated  with  the  Lukuba  clan  ;  that  is,  the 
natives  will  say  that  the  dog  is  a  Lukuba,  as  the  pig  is  a 
Malasi,  and  the  igwana  a  Lukulabuta.  In  several  stories  about 
the  origin  and  relative  rank  of  the  clans,  each  of  them  is  repre- 
sented by  its  totemic  animal.  Thus  the  igwana  is  the  first  to 
emerge  from  underground.  Hence  the  Lukulabuta  are  the 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  319 

oldest  clan.  The  dog  and  the  pig  dispute  with  one  another  the 
priority  of  rank,  the  dog  basing  his  claims  on  his  earlier  appear- 
ance on  the  earth,  for  he  followed  immediately  the  igwana  , 
the  pig,  asserting  himself  in  virtue  of  not  eating  unclean  things. 
The  pig  won  the  day,  and  therefore  the  Malasi  clan  are  con- 
sidered to  be  the  clan  of  the  highest  rank,  though  this  is  really 
reached  only  in  one  of  its  sub-clans,  that  of  the  Tabalu  of 
Omarakana.  The  incident  of  the  lebu  (taking  by  force)  of  some 
ornaments  from  the  Dobuans  refers  to  the  custom  of  using 
friendly  violence  in  certain  Kula  transactions  (see  chapter  XIV, 
Division  II). 

In  the  second  part  of  the  story,  we  find  the  hero  endowed 
again  with  magical  powers  far  superior  to  those  of  the  present- 
day  wizards.  They  can  make  rain,  or  stay  the  clouds,  it  is 
true,  but  he  is  able  to  create  a  small  cloud  which  pours  copious 
rain  over  his  own  gardens,  and  leaves  the  others  to  be  shrivelled 
up  by  the  sun.  This  part  of  the  narrative  does  not  touch  the 
canoe  problem,  and  it  is  of  interest  to  us  only  in  so  far  as  it 
again  shows  what  appears  to  the  natives  the  real  source  of  their 
hero's  supernatural  powers. 

The  motives  which  lead  to  the  killing  of  Mokatuboda  are  not 
stated  explicitly  in  the  narrative.  No  myth  as  a  rule  enters 
very  much  into  the  subjective  side  of  its  events.  But,  from  the 
lengthy,  indeed  wearisome  repetition  of  how  the  other  Kitava 
men  constantly  find  the  Kudayuri  canoe  outrunning  them,  how 
they  are  astonished  and  angry,  it  is  clear  that  his  success  must 
have  made  many  enemies  to  Mokatuboda.  What  is  not  so 
easily  explained,  is  the  fact  that  he  is  killed,  not  by  the  other 
Kitava  men,  but  by  his  own  kinsmen.  One  of  the  versions 
mentions  his  brothers  and  his  sister's  sons  as  the  slayers. 
One  of  them  states  that  the  people  of  Kitava  ask  Toweyre'i,  the 
younger  brother,  whether  he  has  already  acquired  the  flying 
magic  and  the  rain  magic,  and  only  after  an  affirmative  is 
received,  is  Mokatuboda  killed  by  his  younger  brother,  in 
connivance  with  the  other  people.  An  interesting  variant  is 
added  to  this  version,  according  to  which  Toweyre'i  kills  his 
elder  brother  in  the  garden.  He  then  comes  back  to  the  village 
and  instructs  and  admonishes  Mokatuboda's  children  to  take 
the  body,  to  give  it  the  mortuary  attentions,  to  prepare  for  the 
burial.  Then  he  himself  arranges  the  sagali,  the  big  mortuary 
distribution  of  food.  In  this  we  find  an  interesting  document 


320  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 

of  native  custom  and  ideas.  Toweyre'i,  in  spite  of  having 
killed  his  brother,  is  still  the  man  who  has  to  arrange  the 
mortuary  proceedings,  act  as  master  of  ceremonies,  and  pay 
for  the  functions  performed  in  them  by  others.  He  personally 
may  neither  touch  the  corpse,  nor  do  any  act  of  mourning  or 
burial ;  nevertheless  he,  as  the  nearest  of  kin  of  the  dead  man, 
is  the  bereaved  one,  is  the  one  from  whom  a  limb  has  been 
severed,  so  to  speak.  A  man  whose  brother  has  died  cannot 
mourn  any  more  than  he  could  mourn  for  himself.*  To  return 
to  the  motives  of  killing,  as  this  was  done  according  to  all 
accounts  by  Mokatuboda's  own  kinsmen,  with  the  approval  of 
the  other  men,  envy,  ambition,  the  desire  to  succeed  the  head- 
man in  his  dignity,  must  have  been  mixed  with  spite  against 
him.  In  fact,  we  see  that  Toweyre'i  proceeds  confidently  to 
perform  the  magic,  and  bursts  out  into  wailing  only  after  he  has 
discovered  he  has  been  duped. 

Now  we  come  to  one  of  the  most  remarkable  incidents  of  the 
whole  myth,  that  namely  which  brings  into  connection  the 
yoyova,  or  the  flying  witches,  with  the  flying  canoe,  and  with 
such  speed  of  a  canoe,  as  is  imparted  to  it  by  magic.  In 
the  spells  of  swiftness  there  are  frequent  allusions  to  the  yoyova 
or  mulukwausi.  This  can  be  clearly  seen  in  the  spell  of  the 
wayugo,  already  adduced  (Chapter  V,  Division  III),  and 
which  is  still  to  be  analysed  linguistically  (Chapter  XVIII, 
Divisions  II  to  IV).  The  kariyala  (magical  portent,  cf. 
Chapter  XVII,  Division  VII)  of  the  wayugo  spell  consists  in 
shooting  stars,  that  is,  when  a  wayugo  rite  is  performed  at  night 
over  the  creeper  coils,  there  will  be  stars  falling  in  the  sky. 
And  again,  when  a  magician,  knowing  this  system  of  magic, 
dies,  shooting  stars  will  be  seen.  Now,  as  we  have  seen 
(Chapter  X,  Division  I),  falling  stars  are  mulukwausi  in  their 
flight. 

In  this  story  of  the  Kudayuri  we  see  the  mythological 
ground  for  this  association.  The  same  magic  which  allowed 
the  canoe  to  sail  through  the  air  gives  the  three  sisters  of 
Kudayuri  their  power  of  being  mulukwausi,  and  of  flying.  In 
this  myth  they  are  also  endowed  with  the  power  of  cleaving 
the  rocks,  a  power  which  they  share  with  the  canoe,  which 

*  Cf .  Professor  C.  G.  Seligman,  "  The  Melanesians,"  Chapter  LIV,  "  Burial 
and  Mourning  Ceremonies "  (among  the  natives  of  the  Trobriand  Islands, 
of  Woodlark  and  the  Marshall  Bennetts). 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  321 

cleft  a  rock  immediately  after  leaving  the  village.  The  three 
sisters  cleave  rocks  and  pierce  the  land  in  several  places.  My 
native  commentators  assured  me  that  when  the  canoe  first 
visited  Giribwa  and  Kadimwatu  at  the  beginning  of  this  myth, 
the  land  was  still  joined  at  these  places  and  there  was  a  beach 
at  each  of  them.  The  mulukwausi  tried  to  pierce  Boyowa  at 
several  spots  along  the  Eastern  coast,  but  succeeded  only  at 
Giribwa.  The  myth  thus  has  the  archaic  stamp  of  referring 
to  deep  changes  in  natural  features.  The  two  sisters,  who  fly 
to  the  South  return  from  the  furthest  point  and  settle  near 
Tewara,  in  which  there  is  some  analogy  to  several  other  myths 
in  which  heroes  from  the  Marshall  Bennett  Islands  settle  down 
somewhere  between  the  Amphletts  and  Dobu.  One  of  them 
turns  her  eyes  northwards  towards  the  non-cannibal  people  of 
Boyowa  and  she  is  said  to  be  averse  to  cannibalism.  Probably 
this  is  a  sort  of  mythological  explanation  of  why  the  Boyowan 
people  do  not  eat  men  and  the  Dobuans  do,  an  explanation  to 
which  there  is  an  analogy  in  another  myth  shortly  to  be 
adduced,  that  of  Atu'a'ine  and  Aturamo'a,  and  a  better  one  still 
in  a  myth  about  the  origins  of  cannibalism,  which  I  cannot 
quote  here. 

In  all  these  traditions,  so  far,  the  heroes  belonged  to  the 
clan  of  Lukuba.  To  it  belong  Gere'u,  Tokosikuna,  the 
Kudayuri  family  and  their  dog,  and  also  the  dog,  Tokulubway- 
doga  of  the  myth  told  in  Chapter  X,  Division  V.  I  may  add 
that,  in  some  legends  told  about  the  origin  of  humanity,  this 
clan  emerges  first  from  underground  and  in  some  it 
emerges  second  in  time,  but  as  the  clan  of  highest  rank, 
though  in  this  it  has  to  yield  afterwards  to  the  Malasi.  The 
main  Kultur-hero  of  Kiriwina,  the  ogre-slayer  Tudava,  belongs, 
also  to  the  clan  of  Lukuba,  There  is  even  a  historic  fact,  which 
agrees  with  this  mythological  primacy,  and  subsequent  eclipse. 
The  Lukuba  were,  some  six  or  seven  generations  ago,  the 
leading  clan  in  Vakuta,  and  then  they  had  to  surrender  the 
chieftainship  of  this  place  to  the  Malasi  clan,  when  the  sub-clan 
of  the  Tabalu,  the  Malasi  chiefs  of  the  highest  rank  in  Kiriwina, 
migrated  South,  and  settled  down  in  Vakuta.  In  the  myths 
quoted  here,  the  Lukuba  are  leading  canoe-builders,  sailors, 
and  adventurers,  that  is  with  one  exception,  that  of  Tokosikuna, 
who,  though  excelling  in  all  other  respects,  knows  nothing  of 
canoe  construction. 


322  MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA 


Let  us  now  proceed  to  the  last  named  mythological  centre, 
and  taking  a  very  big  step  from  the  Marshall  Bennetts,  return 
to  Tewara,  and  to  its  myth  of  the  origin  of  the  Kula.  I  shall 
tell  this  myth  in  a  translation,  closely  following  the  original 
account,  obtained  in  Kiriwinian  from  an  informant  at  Obu^aku. 
I  had  an  opportunity  of  checking  and  amending  his  narrative, 
by  the  information  obtained  from  a  native  of  Sanaro'a  in 
pidgin  English. 

THE  STORY  OF  KASABWAYBWAYRETA  AND 
GUMAKARAKEDAKEDA 

"  Kasabwaybwayreta  lived  in  Tewara.  He  heard  the 
renown  of  a  soulava  (spondylus  necklace)  which  was  lying 
(kept)  in  Wawela.  Its  name  was  Gumakarakedakeda. 
He  said  to  his  children  :  '  Let  us  go  to  Wawela,  make  Kula 
to  get  this  soulava.'  He  put  into  his  canoe  unripe  coco-nut, 
undeveloped  betel-nut,  green  bananas." 

"  They  went  to  Wawela  ;  they  anchored  in  Wawela. 
His  sons  went  ashore,  they  went  to  obtain  Gumakara- 
kedakeda. He  remained  in  the  canoe.  His  son  made 
offering  of  food,  they  (the  Wawela  people)  refused. 
Kasabwaybwayreta  spoke  a  charm  over  the  betel-nut : 
it  yellowed  (became  ripe)  ;  he  spoke  the  charm  over  the 
coco-nut :  its  soft  kernel  swelled ;  he  charmed  the 
bananas  :  they  ripened.  He  took  off  his  hajr,  his  gray 
hair ;  his  wrinkled  skin,  it  remained  in  the  canoe.  He  rose, 
he  went,  he  gave  a  pokala  offering  of  food,  he  received  the 
valuable  necklace  as  Kula  gift,  for  he  was  already  a 
beautiful  man.  He  went,  he  put  it  down,  he  thrust  it  into 
his  hair.  He  came  to  the  canoe,  he  took  his  covering 
(the  sloughed  skin)  ;  he  donned  the  wrinkles,  the  gray  hairs, 
he  remained." 

"  His  sons  arrived,  they  took  their  places  in  the  canoe, 
they  sailed  to  Giribwa.  They  cooked  their  food.  He 
called  his  grandson  ;  '  Oh,  my  grandson,  come  here,  look 
for  my  lice.1  The  grandson  came  there,  stepped  near 
him.  Kasabwaybwayreta  spoke,  telling  him :  '  My 
grandson,  catch  my  lice  in  the  middle  (of  my  hair)/  His 
grandson  parted  his  hair ;  he  saw  the  valuable  necklace, 
Gumakarakedakeda  remaining  there  in  the  hair  of 
Kasabwaybwayreta.  '  Ee.  .  .'he  spoke  to  his  father, 
telling  him,  '  My  father,  Kasabwaybwayreta  already 
obtained  Gumakarakedakeda/  '  O,  no,  he  did  not 


MYTHOLOGY  OF  THE  KULA  323 

obtain  it  !  I  am  a  chief,  I  am  beautiful,  I  have  not 
obtained  that  valuable.  Indeed,  would  this  wrinkled  old 
man  have  obtained  the  necklace  ?  No,  indeed  !  ' 
*  Truly,  my  father,  he  has  obtained  it  already.  I  have 
seen  it  ;  already  it  remains  in  his  hair  !  '  " 

"  All  the  water- vessels  are  empty  already  ;  the  son 
went  into  the  canoe,  spilled  the  water  so  that  it  ran  out, 
and  only  the  empty  vessels  (made  of  coco-nut  shell) 
remained.  Later  on  they  sailed,  they  went  to  an  island, 
Gabula  (Gabuwana  in  Amphlettan  and  in  Dobuan).  This 
man,  Kasabwaybwayreta  wanted  water,  and  spoke  to  his 
son.  This  man  picked  up  the  water  vessels — no,  they  were 
all  empty.  They  went  on  the  beach  of  Gabula,  the 
usagelu  (members  of  the  crew)  dug  out  their  water-holes 
(in  the  beach).  This  man  remained  in  the  canoe  and 
called  out :  '  O  my  grandson,  bring  me  here  my  water,  go 
there  and  dip  out  my  water  !  '  The  grandson  said  :  '  No, 
come  here  and  dip  out  (yourself)  !  '  Later  on,  they  dipped 
out  water,  they  finished,  and  Kasabwaybwayreta  came. 
They  muddied  the  water,  it  was  muddy.  He  sat  down,  he 
waited/' 

"  They  went,  they  sailed  in  the  canoe.  Kasabwaybway- 
reta called  out,  '  O,  my  son,  why  do  you  cast  me  off  ?  ' 
Spoke  the  son